The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

Following Dr. Oz's Advice For A Year


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What’s the Black Ribbon For and Other Ways of Dealing With Loss…

The loss of a parent, regardless of the relationship that you may have had with them is difficult in a way that can’t really be put into words.  When you aren’t close, it opens you up to a different type of grieving.  Maybe it’s the loss of possibility that I’m grieving now or the loss of hope – I can’t really describe to you what it is.  The reality is, that everyone’s experience is unique to them.  I can give you all of the tips and tricks that have worked for me in getting through this last month, but they may not work for you – everyone is different.  The one thing that I know for sure is that in death and mourning, there is no real right or wrong, you have to do what feels right for you.

Since this is a blog about taking Dr. Oz’s advice, I checked his website and found a video featuring Dr. Richard Smith.  He laid out the three stages of grief – these really didn’t apply to me, but I’ll share them with you anyway:

  • Stage one – loss of control, denial and a lack of reality…maybe even anger.  This totally didn’t apply to me.  In some ways, the death of my father has been easier than I thought, in some ways more difficult, but I’ve never, for a minute been angry or in denial over what happened.  Maybe, because it was expected, maybe because no matter how early it was, I did get to say a needed good-bye or maybe because there isn’t a one size fits all on death and mourning, but I never went through any part of this stage.
  • Stage two – persistent sadness and emptiness…this one, I’m not sure of.  It’s a complicated situation.  After the funeral, and when I went back to work, I could easily focus on the job at hand.  As time has moved on, there have been weeks where I felt numb inside.  I could even watch a sad dog video and not cry.  Just numb and in some ways, on auto pilot saying and doing the right things and what is expected of me. I have had a lot of other things that have needed my attention though, and maybe that’s why I feel more myself than I perhaps should.
  • Stage 3 – reinvest with other people.  It’s too soon for this one I think.

Sorry, I wish I could tell everyone that there is an exact process to follow, but there isn’t.  I’m not religious, but one thing that helped me, was taking part in some of the observances that Jewish people following the death of an immediate family member.  The practice of K’riah (literally ‘tearing’) just prior to the funeral, where the mourners rip and a black ribbon and continue to wear it for 30 days has helped me.  It is supposed to be symbolic of loss, and permanent scarring to your life at the loss of one so dear to you.  For me, it was a reminder that whenever I had any doubt, that my father was no longer here.  People would ask me what the little black ribbon was for and I’d explain that my father had passed away.  Each time I said it, it made it more believable to me.  I went to synagogue to say Mourner’s Kaddish (a traditional prayer for the dead) during Shloshim – the 30 days of mourning after the funeral.  I did this 3 times, and again, I’m not religious, but having a process to follow brought me comfort.

The one thing that was most helpful was going to the cemetery by myself a few days after the funeral.  I went because I didn’t have any time at the end of my father’s life to say the things that I needed to say and I wasn’t afforded the opportunity at the funeral.  I spent ten minutes there, but it made everything so much better for me.  I had the whole place to myself, and I just stood there and said (mostly in my inside voice) what I felt at that moment.  It didn’t take long, but for me it was time well spent.  Sometimes, it’s not about getting every question answered or “getting closure” that counts, it’s about taking the time that you need, for yourself.  I know that I may never really understand my father and I know that he likely didn’t understand me, but that’s ok.  I understood, in that moment, that I didn’t need either, I just needed quiet time to process everything and it helped.  What surprised me was how little time I needed there.  I knew that I wasn’t going to get a sign from my father that he was there with me, and I was also ok with that.  I went with no expectations, and I left with even fewer but being there helped a realist like me, in ways that I just can’t explain.  You will never get time back, especially time to deal with complex emotions – so take what you need for yourself.

Some people have gone above and beyond, and I know that I’ve thanked them for everything that they have done – make sure, no matter how sad you may be to do that.  Everyone deserves to be appreciated and when times are tough, and people go out of their way to help, let them know that you value them.  You will get through your loss whatever it may be and there will be days, which may come sooner than you think where you will feel exactly like yourself.  I know for me, that writing about how I feel about this has been cathartic, but I’m at the point now where I just want to write about fluffier, more enjoyable things.  Maybe one day I’ll want to revisit this time in my life, that’s the beauty of having your own blog – you can write about what you feel like, and when it’s time, you can let it go…


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One For My Sisters

Sorry, to my precious readers, but I’m afraid that this entry is not really intended for you.  It’s for Maichie and Eyesore, my two older sisters.  We’ve had a difficult month and I thought we could all use a dose of some good memories.  We did have them, and we are continuing to make them, no matter how challenging things may seem today.  Here are my top ten:

  • Sitting in the Big Room as a family on Saturday nights to watch The Love Boat and Fantasy Island (even better, when they had the two hour cross-over episodes) – if that dates me, I don’t care.  Everyone had their spots – Maichle in the leather rocker, Eyesore on the other leather chair, Mummy on the gold couch, Dad on the leather sofa and Rascal in front of the fireplace or next to his favourite person – we all know who that was.  The only one who didn’t have a spot was the baby of the family – me.  I drifted from ottoman to ottoman, or wherever i could squeeze in.  Sometimes, if it was a really good night, Dad would make popcorn for us on the stove.
  • Swimming in the pool on the few hot nights that we had in Sydney.  The pool felt warmer than during the day, and it was so fun swimming with just the flood lights on.  Plus, I didn’t have to worry about bees or wasps chasing me into the pool.
  • Going to movies with you both was a highlight and always made me feel like “a big girl”.  I remember lining up with you both to see Star Wars at the Vogue having no clue what it was.  Then, being totally freaked out by the Sandmonsters and Darth Vader.  We all slept in Maichie’s room that night.  You two lying in the normal sleeping position, me across the top of the bed because I was too scared to sleep on the floor.  I remember Mom forcing you to take me to Charlotte’s Web, but I knew that I was really doing you the favour.  Best movie EVER!
  • Speaking of Charlotte’s Web, I loved reading that book aloud to myself day and night and all of you telling me to SHUT UP over and over again.  Thanks to the verbal abuse from my older sisters, night after night, I finally did learn to read using my inside voice.
  • Remember when we went to Miami and Disney World for the first time?  It was my first time on a beach and I couldn’t quite get the hang of sandcastles, but you guys tried your best.  I’ll never forget, at Disney, the old woman coming out of the parade and hitting Dad on the head with her rolling pin.  It didn’t knock any sense into him, but it sure was funny.  I remember Goofy coming up behind Mom and covering her eyes with his hands – only he and I knew what was happening.  Mom yelling – “Larry, would you cut it out!” then Goofy revealed that it was really a top dog playing a trick on her.  Goofy took a picture with me and I’ll never forget that moment, especially since Mickey and Minnie dissed me earlier in the day.  I remember you guys went on Dumbo together and were soaring!  I was on the ride with Mummy and every time I’d try to make Dumbo go higher, she’d push the lever down so we were closer to the ground.  She pretended it was so that I wouldn’t be afraid, but I knew the truth.
  • I remember FINALLY getting to go to school like you two.  It was one of my best memories.  Argyle was the only time that the three of us were in the same school together because I was so far behind you both.  You both protected me at school – Michele fighting off the bullies and Donna telling me who I could speak to and who I had to avoid because they were one of the “bad kids”.  You even taught me to play hopscotch.
  • Sitting outside, under the umbrella and having our barbecues.  Remember how a nice day in Sydney was the nicest day ever – no humidity – just warm and sunny…
  • The odd time, getting to play games together as a family.  Monopoly and Pay Day – it wasn’t often – Dad didn’t have the patience and Mom didn’t like to lose (she still doesn’t).  They were still fun memories.  Later board games were replaced by cards.  Gin, black jack, bloody knuckles – whatever we felt like at the time.
  • I remember your high school graduations – you both got to wear such beautiful white dresses.  I was a little disappointed that you didn’t have the mortarboard, but I got to wear that.  Bobbie came to both graduations, and she was bursting with pride.  I was too – but happy/sad – as proud as I was, I knew how badly I was going to miss both of you in the fall when you went away to school.  I learned a valuable life lesson when I went away to school a few years later – it’s always easier leaving that being left behind.
  • Best of all, I remember the days when the power would go out.  Maybe nobody liked it as much as I did, but we all got to be together with no distractions.  We didn’t have to go to school.  We got to sit near the fire…toast marshmallows…our enterprising mother cooking our dinners in the fondue pot…taking naps together because there just wasn’t a lot to do…but it was just nice…

These are just a few of my highlights…I welcome yours.

To my other older sister – Babs – thank you so much for today.  It was the best day that I’ve had since my father died.  Thank you for making the mani-pedi appointments, taking me shopping and picking the dinner location.  I’m so happy that I got to hang out with you and it was so nice not having to decide anything more stressful than what shoes to buy.


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A Eulogy for My Father

Dr. John Lawrence Schneiderman

March 24, 1933-June 10, 2015

Dad…

I don’t think I’m going to get to speak at your funeral tomorrow, so I wanted to do a eulogy in my own way.  In many ways, you were a stranger to me.  You were one of the fears that I had to face this year.  Seeing you so ill in February was so hard, but letting you know that I forgave you is bringing me peace right now.  I know you didn’t agree that you needed forgiveness, you didn’t believe that you did anything wrong.  I still needed to say it though.  As with most things, we had to agree to disagree.

I am sorry Dad.  I always felt that I was a disappointment to you.  I was never Daddy’s little girl, but my Bobbie’s soul mate and my mother’s daughter.  I wanted to look at you the way Mummy looked at her Dad – as a hero.  I know that you looked at him the same way as well and I wish that your parents were as wonderful as Bobbie and Zaidie.  I wanted to respect you and put you on a pedestal and maybe, I failed you in that way, and for that I am sorry.  I did respect your intelligence and I did have compassion for your shortcomings.  I did try to be the best daughter that I could.

I will try to remember some of the good things, Dad.  Like the time when I was a little girl and I was afraid that Frankenstein was going to take me away.  You and Mummy sat on my bed and explained to me that we had two big wooden doors that he would never be able to break into.  I remember how we always had the most beautiful garden in Boulderwood because you had a green thumb.  I remember how you loved to tell a dirty joke and you did it well.  I’ll remember how you snuck surgical scrubs out of the hospital so that I’d have something to wear on career day.  I’ll remember that you and I were the only two people in the house who loved Shakespeare and we’d trade quotes.  I’ll remember how you taught me to play gin. I’ll remember how you took me to meet your 99 year old patient so that I could interview him for a school project and the pride that I felt when he told me about how you saved his life.  I’ll remember how you let me give the pre-op orders over the phone once or twice…”Chest…ECG…BUN…Creatinine…Electrolytes…CBC and Sed Rate…Mogadan 10 HS…SS Enema HS…prep mid chest…” I still remember that to this day.

I’ll also remember the bad.  I won’t dwell on it.  I won’t be bitter because of it, but I’ll remember.  Again, I’ll try to be compassionate.  When we came to see you in February, I made the decision not to bring up the past to you.  I knew that there was no point in arguing with a dying man.  It was so sad for me to see you barely able to hold a paper cup of juice.  Your once steady, surgeon’s hands shaking as you tried to sip it.  It broke my heart to see your body covered with bruises caused by the blood thinners.  You were defeated.  Where Mummy can be so strong and fearless, you were always more timid.  When Mummy gets sick, I look at her, and she still has a spark – you didn’t have that spark when I saw you.  When I went to leave the room for a minute, and you said “Jill…Jill where are you going?” I was shocked because it was one of the few times in my life where I saw you vulnerable and where I thought you actually wanted me to stay.

I wish that you had been able to go and die with dignity in your own home surrounded by your own things instead of in a hospital room.  I wish that you didn’t have to die alone without your children at your bedside.  Dad, I wish that wherever you are, that you finally have peace and that you were able to forgive yourself.  I hope that you know that I never hated you and that I’ll be OK Dad, we’ll all be OK.


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My Fearless Challenge AKA The Niagara Falls Nightmare

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Image courtesy of niagaraparks.com

Dr. Oz recently did an episode of his show on conquering fears, which, if you were paying attention, I wrote about a few weeks ago.  This year has been all about conquering fears for me. I’ve gotten my driver’s licence, signed up for driving lessons (starting next month), I’ve confronted the past and made my own type of peace with it, and I’ve decided to take the Canadian Cancer Society’s Fearless Challenge.  I’d like to say that my inspiration for doing this is to help prevent cancer for our future generations, but I’ve had to face another fear this year – my mother’s breast cancer, that had been in remission, had spread to her bones.  The very definition of fearless, my mother delivered the news to me casually over the phone several weeks after she found out.  As I started to cry, she reminded me that she had no intentions of going anywhere.  Then she told me that she had an appointment with an oncologist.  The only fear that she showed was when I decided to tag along with because she knew that it was then that I would find out that she slept through her appointment time the week before.   She thought it was hilarious – me – not so much.

My mother’s sense of humour through all of this has been amazing.  She reminds me daily that she doesn’t just have cancer – she has a life too.  She makes the best of her situation which means having friends over more and going out less.  Cancer is a bit of a roller coaster to say the least, and there have been good days, and bad.  Lately it has been Cancer Schmancer.   It’s there, but it’s not the be all and end all that it would like to be.

Watching the bravest person alive (yes Mummy that’s you) go through this battle inspired me to face my own fears.  Doing the Canadian Cancer Society’s (CCS) Fearless Challenge is my most important project.  When my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, I stayed up nights pouring over websites and getting so much scary information that I didn’t know how to process it all.  I decided to streamline my research to only a couple of sites that I knew to be reputable.  One was the CCS’s cancer.ca.  It had great information and gave me a complete picture of the resources available.  When I went to oncology appointments, I’d pick up CCS booklets.  The more I read, the less scary the disease became and I was finally able to calm myself down enough to sleep at night and to stop pouring over websites.

I did the same thing back in March when I found out that my mother’s cancer had spread.  I read all of the research and resources, but used cancer.ca as my go to.  I picked up more booklets at the hospital and once again, they brought me some semblance of comfort along with my very supportive friends and family.  I’m so grateful to the CCS for having this information available.  They also became a client and that’s when I found out about the Fearless Challenge.  I want to give back by helping raise money for this very worthy charity so here is what I’m committing to.  I’m going to do all of the things that I’ve ever chickened out on in Niagara Falls.  I’m going to (in order of least afraid to most afraid):

  • Go on the Whirlpool Aero Car – I chickened out on this years ago, even though this doesn’t scare me at all now
  • Take a ride on the SkyWheel helping me face my fear of throwing up and getting dizzy.  I have terrible motion sickness – everyone else is afraid of heights, I’m just afraid of barfing at 175 feet above the ground in a closed car
  • Meander through the Butterfly Conservatory – this is the absolute worst thing ever for me!!!!  I hate insects and you can tell me that a Butterfly is beautiful – but it’s just a bug with huge wings that flits everywhere willy nilly.  I’m going to see if Hazmat suit is available for the day.  At the very least, I’m covering myself in black clothing from head to toe and wearing leather gloves even if I have to go on the hottest day of the year.

This is where I do my schlocky sales pitch – please check out and support my Fearless Challenge or sign up for one of your own.  Check out my page and the site for inspiration http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR?fr_id=19672&px=6422179&pg=personal&fb_ref=Default  Help me make cancer a little less scary for others.

Thank you!!!!


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Why I’ll Never Be an Axe Murderer…

Axe Murderer

Hitting the board for the first time…

I’ll never be an Axe Murderer.  Lizzie Borden, I’m just not.  I’m a lover, not a fighter for one thing and for another, my aim just plain isn’t good enough (and blood and guts are a little bit of a gross out for me).  As part of my 2015 plan to try things that I’ve never tried before (very much Oz approved), I agreed to go with a bunch of women to Axe Throwing.  Well, it was a great evening BUT, I certainly wasn’t a natural.  As you can see from the position of my axe (I feel so macho saying that) – it did hit the board, but I only got a hole in one, bullseye or whatever you want to call the middle part of the board two times that night.  Some people were just naturals at this slightly aggressive activity – I’m not saying that makes them psychotic, but there first step is admitting that you have a problem…right?

The day of the throwing of the axes made me have to face a very mild fear – or maybe just slight discomfort…fear works better because one of my last blogs was about an episode of Dr. Oz about dealing with life’s little scary moments…Everyone that I knew bailed on the evening, except for the organizer.  There were going to be another 14 or 15 people that I had never met before.  Even scarier, it was pouring torrential sheets of rain (I hate damp clothes).  For a very fleeting moment, I considered cancelling, however, good manners and the fact that I like a challenge spurred me on.  Of course I got to the restaurant before the organizer/one friend that I knew, so I plunked myself down, and chatted, remembering that I spend half of my working day meeting or talking to people that I’ve never met before.  It was a great group of very welcoming people – once again, our Zombie Room Escape planning hostess had nailed another evening.  It was so nice to not have to tell people about what was going on in my life and so nice to not have anyone complaining about this or that.  Just a lot of fun, a lot of axes thrown and some even hit their target.

Trying new things or meeting new people can be stressful at the best of times, but being able to say that I did something that I’ve never tried before, and didn’t let the fear of unknown people or activity stop me from just showing up was the best part.  If you ever have a chance to go throw some axes around – do it!  If I can come home with every limb attached, so can you!


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Happy Birthday Barb!

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Yes Blimi, that’s your jacket!

I grew up with 3 older sisters, two, by birth and one by proximity.  I met Barb when I was about 3 years old.  Her parents were my parents closest friends in Sydney, Nova Scotia where we both grew up.  Not being a true Cape Bretoner, unlike my good friend, I didn’t have any family in the Steel City, and Barb and her family, became that.  Even our beloved grandmothers knew each other and had tea together every time they were in town for a visit.  My first memory of Barb is a day that my big sisters took us to see Blackie and Brownie – the friendly, neighbourhood dogs.  That started Barb’s love of animals – especially her gentle giant of a German Shepherd – Kyla.  Ok – maybe just a giant – that dog’s bite was worse than her bark – sorry Babs, but Rascal was the best!  I digress, but even though that was the first time I met Barb – we ended up spending a lot of time together over the years.  From Mrs. Simson’s plays at Hebrew School to Susan Ross’s Dancing School (best show I’ve ever seen in CB), we both got to wear some flashy costumes.

Barb was the one who prepared me for the departure of my sisters when they had to leave me to go to school.  She understood what it was like to be the abandoned, youngest child.  With my sister’s being one year apart, and each being six and five years older, I just got used to one being gone when the next one left.  It was pretty devastating for this baby of the family, but Barb was still going to be there for two years.  She was the one who drove me to school and home again, because my mother just wasn’t a morning person.  She was the one who introduced me to two songs (they were the only songs I heard in her car) – “I’m Your Man” (Wham!) and “How Will I Know” (Whitney Houston).  Sometimes, we did get to hear “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” but it sounds almost identical to “How Will I Know”.  She drove me to GA’s Dairy to get magazines, and she generally just helped me get through a couple of tough years.  Eventually, Barb had to move too, but that didn’t mean that would be the last that I would see of her.  I still got to see Barb during the holidays, but it was a couple of tough years for me without my other sister.

When I moved to Toronto, Barb once again took me under her wing.  She spent a lot of time with me at school and became a fixture in my residence.  She gave me the tough advice that no one ever really wants to hear, but you need to listen to.  She moved me in and out of residence 5 times.  She was the one who checked in on me my first summer living on my own.  She was the one who walked the long halls of Yorkdale from Roots where she worked, to Wishful Thinking where I worked, to make sure that I was doing my job.

Eventually everyone grows up, and sometimes, things change, but Barb and I were tied together because of the deep friendship between her Mom and Dad, and my own Mother.  They all eventually moved here, and once again, the holidays were spent together.  I had the privilege of holding Barb’s twins when they were born.  I loved them from the first time I held them – they were as light as Tom Brady’s footballs.  I’ve watched them grow from adorable, funny little girls to gorgeous,  funny young ladies.  They are still, like my own little nieces even though they too are ready to move on to university.  As time has moved on, Barb and I have drifted here and there, but somehow, like family, we always manage to find our way back to the comfort that you have when you know someone almost as well as you know yourself.  In fact, I think that we are better friends because of it.  I trust Barb to keep my confidence, and I know that she feels the same way.  You can’t put a price on a friendship like that.

We have each had some difficult times over the last few years, but have been there for each other.  It’s brought me so much comfort.   It’s knowing that there is someone in the world who knows your whole history.  It’s knowing that no matter what happens, you’ll always have an extra older sister, but knowing that I may be able to step in and be the same help to Barb that she was to me.  It’s knowing that someone can keep a secret and never hold a grudge.  It’s laughing at the stupid in-jokes that we find so hilarious and that no one else would get (Second Noah).  It’s the interesting way that Barb has of reading and observing people, pointing out things that I would never even notice.  It’s knowing that wherever life may take us, we’ll never be far from each other’s thoughts.

Dr. Oz would approve of this message of gratitude – today, I’m grateful for you, Barb – Happy Birthday to You.  I wish you a lifetime of health and happiness.  I leave you with this reminder – no matter how old I am, you will always be older than me : )

Gratefully yours and with much love,

Jillsy xoxo


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The Fear Conquerer – Part 1

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I’ve mentioned, several times, that 2015 has been a time of change in my little piece of the universe.  Admittedly, some has not been joyous, but some has, at the very least, taught me some important life lessons.  I can’t be bothered being preachy today, but I can say, that conquering fears, which incidentally, was one of the topics on The Dr. Oz Show today is definitely on my agenda.

Hello Dolly’s which you see pictured above, aren’t very scary.  But, when you have me making them, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.  My issues with cooking and baking have been numerous.  I hate getting my hands dirty (literally), baking is too much of a science for someone as creative as me (ok – maybe a stretch), I can’t stand slimy things…the list goes on and on.  While cooking has never been a joy or passion of mine, in recent months, I have discovered, that there is a certain order to it that can be soothing. There is nothing more satisfying to someone type A like me, than practicing “mise en place” – putting in place.  I’ll never be a chef, and I may only make several things well, but I am learning.  For Mother’s Day, I made Lidia Bastianich’s Baked Ziti and it was a great, easy to follow recipe https://lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/1070.  It’s not winning any healthy cooking awards, but it is really good!  I love Lidia – I have a real soft spot for her and love watching her cook.

Just because I like cooking, doesn’t mean I like baking.  I’ll never enjoy the dusty, musty, boringness of it.  I hate rolling and patting things down, I’ve almost broken a mix master and there is no real way to keep things straight.  We were having a bake sale at work to raise money for supplies for a dinner at Ronald McDonald House.  A team of us are going to prepare and serve dinner for the residents.  As always, I was thinking that I would just donate money, but I decided conquer my fears and make something.  Well, Hello Dolly, you were calling my name.  On paper, and for the average person, it’s pretty basic.  For a novice like, me, an 8 minute prep lasted a half an hour.  Try figuring out what 3/4 of a cup of butter is supposed to be.  Well, had I been smarter, I would have just cut a slab using the 1/4 and 1/2 measurements, but I’m not mathematician.  Placing parchment paper was also a bit of a nightmare.  It was all just a little much for me…but I did it.  I didn’t quit when the going got crumby (pun intended).  See picture above – not perfect, but done!  And they sold out.  All I have to say is never again.  Good bye Dolly.

I also managed to FINALLY get my driver’s license after so many years.  Part of it was fear of driving in Toronto, part of it was a little fear of writing the test with a bunch of 16 year olds, and some of it was probably fear of failure…but I wrote the test, wasn’t the oldest person in the room and am now the proud owner of Government Issued Photo ID.  In Toronto, we have a graduated licensing system, so I have my G1.  To get my permanent license, I need to do 20 hours of in class (helps with insurance) and two road tests, but in under 2 years, I’ll have that.  I can hardly wait to do the in class – talk about your fears – it’s a Saturday and Sunday from 9-3:30 – YUCK.  Fear of lost time is a hard thing to live with.

I can only deal with so much fear, so I’m signing off for now,  plus I have to go watch  Dr. Oz  so that I can learn to conquer my fear of spiders.  Tune in soon to find out how I’m going to conquer some more fears and how you may be able to help!

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