The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

Following Dr. Oz's Advice For A Year


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You’re The Inspiration – Story One

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Image courtesy of the Cranston Herald

I know, it’s a cheesy Chicago song, but I love cheesy music and theming blogs around them.  There is so much bad news out there that I was feeling the need for something inspiring.  Turn a TV on any day of the week and your likely to see:

a) a plane crash

b) a beheading

c) a storm of some sort that leaves hundreds of people dead or homeless

d) a multiple murder

e) all of the above

I know that feel-good stories may not garner the ratings or interest that the more controversial news does, however, I don’t live and die by rating points, so I decided that I needed to seek out some of life’s more uplifting moments.  I love when ordinary people, like you and me, do EXTRAORDINARY things.  People that inspire me, and hopefully inspire you to do more to make the world a better place to be.  The one common theme?  It’s people that I know.

Back in the fall of 2014, police officer Julie Furgasso, in Cranston, Rhode Island, responded to a call check on Alfred “Fred” Bettencourt.  Fred, a then, 88 year old WWII veteran, had to walk to medical appointments and to any other errands.  He often, didn’t have enough money for food and other essentials.  Taking him under her wing, she enlisted the help of Fire Captain Chuck Pollock (I met Chuck several year’s ago).  Together, they connected Fred with services and programs through the Cranston Senior Enrichment Center, including transportation to VA Hospital appointments and other locations around the city and more importantly, showed a senior, and a war hero, some much needed kindness and friendship.  They set up a donation drive to help Fred and showed him the ultimate kindness by “adopting” him as family.

But wait, there’s more!  Fred never received the medals that he was entitled to as a World War II wounded warrior, including the Purple Heart.  His service records were destroyed in a 1973 fire.  Chuck and Julie worked tirelessly to get Fred the medals he earned for his service and on March 9, after more than half a century, Fred’s sacrifice was finally honoured!  He received: the Purple Heart, Bettencourt was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award and the Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII.  AND – Julie and Chuck have arranged for Fred to take part in an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., in May to visit the World War II Memorial.  How amazing is that?

When I read the story in my newsfeed on Facebook, I immediately reached out to Chuck.  He’s an amazingly kind and humble person and the first thing he said was “it was the right thing to do.”  The next thing he said was that he and Julie didn’t do it for any type of acknowledgement and when I asked if it was ok to write about it, he wanted to make sure that Julie was given the kudos that she deserves.  This is a humble guy who just really cares about people.  I cried when I read these stories, and I hope that you find them just as touching as I did (just click the links below to read more).  Chuck – Julie – you are inspirations to all of us.  If you really want to honour Fred, Chuck and Julie, you may not need to do something quite as grand as they did.  It can be as simple as giving up your seat on the subway or bus; helping a senior across the street; volunteering at a senior’s home or making time for an older person in your life.  Everyone has a story to tell if you take the time to listen.

http://www.cranstononline.com/stories/Im-not-alone,98546?search_filter=bettencourt&content_class=1&town_id=3&sub_type=stories

http://cranstononline.com/stories/After-more-than-50-years-Cranstons-Bettencourt-89-receives-Purple-Heart-other-awards-from-WWII,100671?category_id=4&content_cl

 


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I Get So Emotional…

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…well not really, all the time, but I thought it was the perfect Whitney Houston song to use as the title for today’s blog.  2015 is not a year that I am going to have many fond thoughts of, in fact, in the words of my home girl Queen Elizabeth  (Her Majesty to you), this is fast becoming a year I shall not look fondly upon.  It has turned out to be an annus horribilis.  For those of you who think that I’m referring to someone more cheeky, annus means year in Latin.  

A lot has happened over a very short period of time, and I’ve seen the best and worst of people.  The one thing that I have discovered in all of this, is how important it has been to use my emotions productively.  This is something that Deepak Chopra talks about in his latest 21 Day Meditation Experience and you know I like to remind you that Dr. Oz highly recommends meditation to alleviate stress among other health benefits.  I still suck at it, but why quit trying?

In my favourite meditation to date, Deeps talks about what you should do in a time of difficulty.  I love that he says that being emotionally productive isn’t about “positive thinking as a solution or constantly trying to maintain an optimistic disposition.”  Rather, he wants us to make our emotions part of our support group.  How can we do this?

  • Be aware that emotions are tied to every choice that you make and you can’t always be rational.  I like being rational, but yes, I would say that in the scheme of things, emotions rule the day
  • Deal with emotions as a contestant companion and advisors.  In other words, don’t try to suppress how you feel – many decisions, good and bad, are made based on feelings and it doesn’t help to try to bury your emotions.  The one thing I have to say is that good or bad, I get everything out.  If I need to cry, which isn’t often, I do it.  If I’m angry, depending on how much something is bothering me, I tell the person.  If I’m happy or grateful, I say so.  Life is far too short to choke down feelings and I’ve noticed, at least for me, that there is something very therapeutic about getting things out into the open…and a good cry never hurts.  Deepak says that it is important to remember that every situation has an emotional component
  • “Pushing down emotions” or try to stifle emotions, they get “stuck” meaning, they just sit in your subconscious like a ginormous unhealthy dinner gets stuck in your tummy

There were a few other deep thoughts, but this was the gist of it.  I loved that he didn’t stress positive thinking or fake optimism as a solution.  I hate when people tell me to look at the bright side or that things happen for a reason.  I think I’ve written about this before, but I think that sometimes bad things happen to the best people and sometimes, you see karma in action.  I’m seeing both of these situations at once – but coping with each is less difficult, because I know exactly how I feel and today, that is what I most grateful for.


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Happy Birthday AK (AKA Frousin)

Aaron Blog

Who doesn’t love AK?

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The Glacier we hiked to in Norway!

You may remember some references to AK/Frousin throughout my blog.  He is my brother from another very nice mother (and father).  AK – two of my very favourite words in the English language are “YOU’RE RIGHT” (does a contraction count as more than two words?).  In honour of your very special birthday, I thought I’d share a few things that you were right about: 1. As you breathe you need – or should I credit this to Auntie Tessie? 2. Killing people’s dreams can be very funny – in fact, they are some of my favourite stories of yours. 3. Sea days are the best days…ever 4. Pizza Libretto isn’t bad, but it isn’t the best in Toronto 5. Sting is amazing in concert 6. Concerts are amazing in general 7. You should be able to sit in the Maple Leaf Lounge if you buy a Rouge plane ticket – maybe I shouldn’t bring up painful memories 8. Some people can be very annoying (especially at tea time) 9. Starbucks can be a beacon of hope when you are lost and afraid in a foreign country 10. Having a pedicure is a G-d given right! 11. So is wearing cashmere – scratch that – you can’t wear it and that is one of life’s little tragedies 12. You should always, always take your glasses off before getting your picture taken 13. Marrying your cousins should be illegal even if others think “It’s allowed” 14. You should always have another cookie 15. Angela Lansbury is a living legend Today, if you haven’t guessed, I am so grateful to my frousin, the birthday boy.  It’s so great having you as not just a likeable family member, but a true friend as well.  You are the best of both worlds and I am so happy to have you as one of my closest friends.


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Sleepy-Time Stress

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Keeping one eye on the time…

I admit it – I’m a clock watcher and always need to know the time.  It’s productive during the day, so that I can get to meetings on time or meet people pretty close to the time we agreed on, but when you have insomnia, clock watching is just plain stressful.  You think you are the only one awake, in the world, and it’s a very lonely place to be.  I was reading an article in “Dr. Oz – The Good Life” and was a little disappointed.  Not because the article wasn’t well written and totally useful, but the cover tease was “Turn Off Stress So You Can Sleep-Pill Free”.  That is right up my alley – I hate taking sleeping pills, and not sleeping is a huge cause of stress.  When I eagerly flipped to the article, it was all about women who can’t get back to sleep…not my issue at all.  When I do have insomnia, it’s because I can’t fall asleep.  If I fall asleep, and wake up in the middle of the night, I can always fall back into la-la land – after I check the clock of course.

When I first started blogging, in January 2014, my first topic was all about insomnia.  In general, I do sleep better than I did a year ago.  Here are a few things that I think have helped:

-Eating more nuts – for real – I still eat two brazil nuts a day for the selenium and I eat almonds and walnuts every day.  Think I’m nuts?  It seems to work

-I’ve learned, the hard way, that as soon as I get an inkling that I’m about to fall asleep on the couch, I have to get up and go to bed – immediately.  If I fall asleep, for even 5 little minutes, my shut eye pattern is off, and I find it impossible to sleep

-A cool room helps – really, but freezing cold isn’t great.  Once I’m that cold, no matter what I do, I can’t warm up

-Dr. Oz’s sleep experts say you shouldn’t check the time, but I have to, and it helps me fall back to sleep knowing that I still have a couple of hours that I can get in

-There are times, when I just can’t sleep, that I do get out of bed and walk around, watch TV or read, just to get out of my room

Here are some new recommendations from “Dr. Oz – The Good Life: Your Fall-Back-Asleep Prescription (page 108):

1. Do some belly-breathing – I know I’ll never do this on my own, but I am doing Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s latest 21 Day Meditation Challenge, and I can always do one of the meditations to get in some deep breathing.  I still can’t do the meditating part properly, but I do deep breathe when I listen to D-OPRAH’s latest

2. Get Out of Bed – see above

3. Note and release your worries – this is a great idea – I’ll try this one.  Sometimes, I may have to type it into Outlook, so that I know that I have time set aside for the tasks, but I think knowing you have your “to-do’s” listed somewhere is comforting, at least to me

4. Take a mental stroll – you are supposed to visualize places that bring you peace – I’ll try it, not sure if I buy it, but it’s worth the effort

5. Listen to something calming – This works – I know you aren’t supposed to have iPads in your room, but I listen to podcasts and they put me to sleep and yes, I am admitting this here, Reality Steve’s (Bachelor Spoiler extraordinaire) Live Video Chats are a must listen an my own brand of Nytol – I fall asleep every Thursday listening to them.  I don’t watch unless he is talking to his dog Maddie – which is cute and priceless.  He’s never boring, but there is something soothing about the way he speaks.  Whatever works right?

6. Call in the pros – AKA see your Dr.

Today was a pretty good day with a lot to be grateful for – I’m off this week from work, I got to see my niece and I got to speak to the Shoe (not her real name, but a really close friend).  Not too bad – and no stress : )


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My Favourite Books

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Image courtesy of Harper Collins

I’m an avid reader – I even keep a book diary to record a list of all the books that I have read.  I only started keeping it in 1991, but if I were to guess, I’ve probably read well over a thousand books.  Why do I bring this up?  I was thinking about meditation, which is really being able to tune things out, and listen to nothing, not even your inner voice.  Well, it’s more than that, but that’s the gist for you newcomers to my deepness.  As much as I can’t do this, and I get distracted, I was thinking, I do that sometimes, about how when I read a book I love, I am able to tune things out.  Yes, I’m still listening to my inner voice, but it’s how I relax and de-stress which Dr. Oz and my home boy Deepak Chopra would both approve of.

I’m reading a book that I really like right now, “Wild”.  It’s not the best book that I’ve ever read, but it’s very well written and definitely worthwhile.  It’s the first book in a book club that we are starting at work and I definitely recommend it.  It made me enjoy reading again and also made me think of the ten books that really affected me – here they are:

  1. Charlotte’s Web – my top favourite book ever!  It’s the only book that I kept from my childhood.  Ironic, since I’m terrified of spiders, but it has so many important messages…you may be scary outside, but you can be beautiful inside, unlikely twosomes can become the best of friends, true friendship can last a lifetime, no matter how short that lifetime is, and more.  I always loved and identified with the underdog and this book, read to me in grade 2, was the start of all of this.  Even my beloved, and deceased dog Rascal was the runt of the litter and I loved him as much as Fern loved Wilbur.  I bawled my way through this book (driving my sisters crazy when I was a kid, reading it out loud over and over again) and bawled my way through the movie as an adult.  If you haven’t read it, it’s never too late.  My favourite line?  “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.  Charlotte was both.  THE END.”  Charlotte has always been my inspiration.
  2. The Last Lecture – this is a must read – there is simply no more inspiring, joyful book out there.  Yes, Randy Pausch was dying when he gave his last lecture, but he still loved life.
  3. Memoirs of a Geisha – just beautifully written – it’s as simple as that.
  4. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving is a quirky writer who isn’t for everyone, but this story is amazing.  So many things happen throughout the book, and you wonder why, but it all makes sense in the end.  The book’s protagonist is also an underdog, and you know I love an underdog.
  5. Angela’s Ashes – so good!  You’d think the poverty would depress you, but it’s written with humour and you can get lost in the story.  I loved ‘Tis too!
  6. The Harry Potter Series – trying to pick a favourite is like trying to pick a favourite child – you may have one, but whose dumb enough to tell the world about it?  It’s amazingly creative, shows that good does triumph over evil and the books become more sophisticated as the characters age – what’s not to love?
  7. Marley and Me – You may not agree with this one, but as a dog lover, I adored this book.  Especially the part SPOILER ALERT when the author is getting ready to say goodbye to his beloved pet and he does what I did – strokes his dog in all of his favourite places to memorize how he feels (I did this to my dog when he was trying to sleep, and as always, he was patient with me).
  8. The Book of Negroes – this was a difficult read, but so well written that you feel like you were on the slave ship.  It should be required reading in schools and for members of the Ku Klux Klan and other racists.
  9. The Book Thief – Classified as a Young Adult book, there is nothing about this book that meets that classification.  It was also a difficult read, and you have to understand a little metaphor, but a very important book, at least in my opinion.
  10. Julie and Julia – I know, autobiographical fluff, but it’s one of the books that inspired me to start blogging.

Those are the books – the ones that I remember and had the most impact.  I’m grateful to have read each and every one of them.  I’d love to hear your favourites too so leave them here, or tweet them to me @JillSchnei!


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“I Know This Much Is True”

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Halifax Harbour

Yes, I “borrowed” the title of my blog today from a Wally Lamb book, but after the month that I had, I thought I deserved to take a loaner on such a great title.  If nothing else, I probably learned more life lessons in one month than I have in the last decade.  Lucky you, you get to read some of my deep thoughts…and here they are:

  • Approval from the morally bankrupt is meaningless, at least to me
  • If you aren’t seeking someone’s approval, then you can’t be disappointed
  • We cannot direct the winds, but we can adjust our sails.  Profound, but I can’t take credit for it – I saw it painted on the wall of a hospital room – basically, we can’t change people or circumstances, but we can control how we react to them
  • A family can be better and stronger without certain people in it
  • If you wait long enough, anything can happen
  • People who are set in their ways cannot change even though I believe change is possible if you want to badly enough
  • Doing the right thing can be hard, but it’s easier when you have your sisters with you
  • Sometimes, knowing that you did the right thing has to be enough
  • Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today – Moms are right about this
  • I’ll never be someone who misses an opportunity – it brings me some semblance of peace
  • Sometimes, you have to know your limitations.  I learned mine on Friday when I did the Zombie Room Escape – we didn’t escape and I am terrible at logic problems.  It was fun though and the Zombie was loud, but very nice
  • You can age gracefully
  • It’s ok to fall asleep at a play or a musical – but it is a little embarrassing when you are with a very geriatric crowd and they aren’t the ones taking the nap
  • West Jet is just more fun than Air Canada – not profound, but true

That’s all for today’s deep thoughts.  Today, I am grateful for my family, friends and frousins.  Nothing major, just that.  I do have to start doing some research into energy/fatigue – I’ve been completely exhausted this last month, and I need to do something about it.  I’ll be researching Dr. Oz’s solutions and more – if I can stay awake to do it.


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Change Is In The Air

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I knew that 2015 was going to be a year of change.  I had that feeling on December 31st.  I just wasn’t quite sure what that meant for me.  So far, it has been difficult, but sometimes, not to sound like Polly Pureheart, those difficulties spur you to explore the unexpected.  One day, when my mother wasn’t having a great day, I told her that I would cook for her.  She would just have to be there for me and tell me step by step what to do.  After checking her life insurance policy, she agreed.  Not nice Mummy!  I spent the afternoon making soup for the first time, spaghetti sauce for the first time (beef stinks when it’s cooking – I’ll try to keep my chick-a-fish-a-veg-atarian self away from Elsie the Cow for the rest of my days), baked chicken breasts (not the first time, but only about the third time making this dish) and egg salad (BLAH – too smelly for me to ever eat).  You know, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  It’s just weird how someone just knows how much of everything to add without a recipe (my mother, not me).  So far, she’s survived the experiment.  I made the soup – pictured above, at home for myself.  It was ok day 1 but on day 2, I was about to gag on it.  It did have a lot of Oz approved foods – fresh onion (pre-biotics to super-charge my probiotics), carrots, celery, cabbage, snow peas and a package of dried vegetables and barley.  I probably won’t make it more than once a year, but it was nice adding something to my limited recipe book.

This will also be a year of trying new things.  It means a Zombie “Escape the Room Challenge” and Axe Throwing.  It means doing things that I’ve never tried before, even if they are outside of my comfort zone.  It means committing to a cut off time for work.  It means that in the interests of decluttering, that I actually un-friended someone from Facebook.  Not a big deal, but it was time to do a little tune up.  Why have someone there who clearly I haven’t had a conversation with in years?  I’ll be doing a little more of that in the future – but it was a start.

I also recognize that in order to live in a relatively healthy way, I have to learn how to cope with worry.  I dealt with being sick for most of January (which I wrote about).  This didn’t worry me, but it kept me from being able to write as often, or as clearly as I may have wanted to.  It left me a little fatigued, but that’s partly stress.  A huge work project finally came to an end, which caused me a lot of sleepless nights – but it went well, so that’s a relief.  Last, but most importantly, my family and I have to cope with a challenging situation – I can’t get into details, yet, but it’s not easy.  Luckily, we are supporting each other and for that, I am grateful.  Here are some of Dr. Oz’s tips for coping with worry (from doctoroz.com):

  • “Get More Sleep: One common complaint of distress is lack of sleep. It can put your brain on edge, which forces it to go into survival mode.
  • Meditation: The well-documented effects of regular meditation include lowered blood pressure, less heart disease, decreased chronic pain, and increased mental clarity.
  • Yoga: Dr. Oz recommends doing the 7-minute sun salutation yoga exercise every day. Not only does it keep him in shape, it keeps his mind focused and clear.
  • Teas and Other Calming Foods: Some foods and teas have natural components that help soothe the brain.”

I’ve signed up for Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s latest 21 Day Meditation Experience in March.  I also have 3 other meditations streamed.  As I’ve mentioned, I will always struggle with it, but so many doctors recommend it, that I’ll never stop trying.  I’m already a tea lover, so that’s never an issue, but I am going to see what foods help cope with stress.  I’ve also got to give yoga another try – maybe a laughing yoga class, because I have such a hard time taking it seriously?

Today is Family Day in Ontario, and as always, I like to end on a note of what I am grateful for.  Today, in honour of Family Day, I am grateful to my family, frousins and friends that are like family.  I’m lucky to have all of you.

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