Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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Back to Oz-ish

Gail Blog

My brilliant Frousin + Kiwi

I’ve been a little obsessed with travel and other pursuits, but from time to time, I’m going to revisit why I started this blog – overall health, and Dr. Oz.  This was written months ago, but I couldn’t figure out when to post it.  Now seemed like as good a time as any before I start a slew of travel related posts.
Dr. Oz provides his viewers with a lot of advice on nutrition.  I have tested some of his advice from time to time, but have found a number of places where there are inconsistencies.  One day, he’ll recommend something as a super food and the next day, he’s moved on to something else.  There are a couple of times where I’ve just disagreed with him – like recommending coconut oil where there is no scientific evidence that it has any health benefits.  In fact, there are more studies that suggest it’s high levels of saturated fat can actually do you more harm than good.  Before I try any more of his recommendations, I thought I’d speak to a trained dietician – and why not go to one that I know, trust and love – my cousin Gail!  You may remember her from previous blogs since I’ve turned to her before.  We sat down over Italian so that I could get answers to my latest barrage of questions.
First off, I’ve noticed a lot of people giving advice on nutrition.  Can you tell me what the difference is between a dietician and a nutritionist?
Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, even you.  It’s not a protected title.  Dietitians have a license protected title.  In order to be a dietician, you need to have a degree and have completed an internship of one year including clinical, foodservice and community work.  We have to write a test (usually 6 hours) based on the standards of the province that we are practicing in.  Dietitians have to upkeep our knowledge and belong to the College of Dietitians which is there for the public’s protection.  We, as dietitians, have to stay on top of studies and understand the most up to date information in our field and it must be practice specific.
A nutritionist is someone that can, for example, read a food label, but they do not understand the science behind it.  In the USA, dietitians are called nutritionists so that’s also where some of the confusion lies.
So, I can be a nutritionist in Canada?
Yes!
When should you reach out to either?
A nutritionist is cheaper for a reason.  It’s like going to a holistic doctor versus a medical doctor.  The content of education is different.  A registered dietician bases opinion on scientific data driven by studies.  They are not trying to sell anything like supplements or cleanses.  A nutritionist isn’t covered by medical plans.  A dietitian can be covered by OHIP (or other provincial equivalents) for specific conditions or consultations but if you are consulting them privately, it can be expensive.
You can consult a dietitian when you want to make lifestyle adjustments with diet, and this isn’t just for weight loss.  Weight loss may be a by product of the plan, but medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer,  IBS, Crohn’s or any psychiatric conditions (eating disorders) can benefit from a dietitian.
Is there a danger or risk to seeing a nutritionist?
Yes, particularly if they are recommending fad diets, selling products, creating fear of certain foods or touting elimination diets that have no scientific validity.  They can sometimes offer poor advice that could cause long term problems.  Dietitians often have to deal with issues caused by unsound advice from people calling themselves nutritionists.
What are the ethical standards for a dietician?
There is a huge list of ethical standards.  In Ontario, we are governed by the College of Dietitians of Ontario.  We are covered under the Health Care Professionals Act (the same act that covers psychologists).
What is the worst piece of advice that you’ve seen a nutritionist provide?
Telling people to go on elimination diets is a huge issue.  There are no tested studies and there is no validity to them.  Once you end up eliminating foods that you may not be allergic too, people often get confused and no longer know what to eat.
So what do you think about Dr. Oz?  I know, we’ve talked about this before…
Don’t watch Dr. Oz!  He has a certain pressure to sell his show and it shows in his advice!
For more valuable advice, including Gail’s healthy take on body image, check out her blog on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gailkardishRD/


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Challenges

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Another year, another theme for my blog.  I’ve made one major change – at least major for me…the title is still “The Whiz-ard that is Dr. Oz” but the tag is “And Other Stories”.  I can’t just follow Dr. Oz’s advice, I mean I’ll still try some of his suggestions, but I have other stories that I would like to tell, and let’s face it, I was cheating a lot.  I’d like to do a post and not relate it back to the good Dr.  You’ll still get a healthy dose of health, but I also think growing and changing is healthy too so you’ll be getting some non-health related information from me. More Gwyneth blogs, movie recommendations, recipes my way and some inspiring interviews.

Once I decided that it was time to make some small changes, I also had to think of a theme (not a resolution) for my beloved little blog for 2016.  I sat on my “What Will Become of Me Couch” and pondered.  I lay on my sucky pillow (I’ve had it since I was 2 – I know gross) and had some deep thoughts, then fell asleep.  I sat on the subway and felt the earth move, but realized it was just a bump on the tracks.  I went to my thoughtful spot and thunk, I mean thinked…oh you know what I mean…

So drumroll (in your head) please…this year will be about CHALLENGES!!! Give me a Kermit the Frog YAY!.  Tough audience.  Last year was so challenging, that I thought I should put myself through even more!  In the words of my muse – I know wrong sex, geniuses – Dr. Oz, I want to eliminate stress by trying new things and challenging myself with things that I already love to do.  Some months, I’ll do one challenge, others more.  I’ll have several that last throughout the year,  and I’d love for you to try them with me and comment on how you are doing.

The first challenge is going to be something that I love to do, big hint it has to do with the picture at the top of my blog.  No, I’m not going to befriend a spider – it’s a reading challenge.  Reading is a big stress relief for me and I love it so I thought why not start with a reading challenge.  I belong to a modified book club at work.  Ok, it’s just me and my pal MJack at work talking about books and swapping stories (pun intended) about what we think about them.  She has great taste in books and was the first person that I thought of when I was putting Challenge #1 together.  I always love her picks and you’ll see them peppered throughout the year so MJack – this challenge is dedicated to you.

The Book Challenge (from several lists but mostly goodreads.com):

I’m going to read the following in 2016 and keep you posted on my progress:

A book about an animal
A book based on a fairytale, myth or folklore
A book based on people from a religious text
A book based on true events
A book considered a ‘classic’
A book considered a ‘modern classic’
A book from a series
A book from one of the “Must Read” lists
A book from Oprah’s book club
A book involving religion
A book involving royalty – a king, queen, prince, princess etc.
A book picked for you by someone else
A book published this year
A book someone gave you
A book that a relative or friend loves
A book that everyone is talking about
A book that you can read in a day – CompleteIf I Stay
A book that’s less than 300 pages long – CompleteWhere She Went
A book with a cover that drew you in
A book with a creative title
A book with a short title
A book with a title that describes your life
A book with a title that has more than five words
A book written by a politician
A book you borrowed
A book you could use as a doorstop (ie. 700+ pages)
A book you own but haven’t read
A book you would normally read on holiday
A book you’re embarrassed to read in public
A book you’re excited about
A book you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t
A book you’ve been putting off reading
A classic children’s book
A humorous book
A play by Shakespeare

Yup, that’s right – 35 books in total for the year.  I’m an avid reader, but GEE WHIZ that’s a lot.  I’ve finished two – but I picked easy reads, because I spent 2015 reading very difficult books including Nightingale recommended by MJack and brutal, End of You Life Book Club which you’ll hear more about, a little bit of Deepak Chopra and other assorted Debbie Downer style books.  I’ll give you lists of some of my favourite books, and tell you which you should put down because they suck and never get better.  Your welcome!  So join me – you don’t have to read 35 books to play along, you can even just send me your recos based on the list above.

Until next time, I remain,

Your bookworm

 


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2015 -The Ugly, The Bad and The Good

2015  – another year coming to an end, and it’s a time for everyone to reflect on the events that shaped their lives this year and think about what they would like to change in the coming year.  Some of you get to do that in your inside voice, I’m going to share, in general terms of course, what I’ve been pondering.  I’m reversing The Good, The Bad and The Ugly so that I can end the year on a positive note.

The Ugly

  • Receiving bad news about loved ones’ health this year was a doozy.  The way they handled everything became part of the good.
  • My father dying was very difficult on many levels for me.  If you’ve ever been estranged from a parent and they pass, you know what I mean.   The saddest day, was when I realized that my life hasn’t really changed all that much.  My heart goes out to people in this position.
  • There are times in your life when you meet what I’ll call “The White Elephant” – that person that you’ve heard about for years, but never met, that caused havoc.  I met someone that I’ll just call bad people, it also turned into “the good” for me when I got to tell her what I thought of her.  Nobody likes confrontation, but it can, at times, be good for your soul.

The Bad

  • It’s so sad when you reach a certain age and see your friends and family going through some of the same things that you are going through.  Death, sickness and job loss is always tough – it’s hard going through it and it’s hard watching other people go through it.
  • I like my job, I even like most of the people that I work with, but I let work get the better of me again this year after promising myself that I needed to lessen my load.  Being at work until 9 every night made me realize that I have to put my needs, and health first.
  • Not blogging as much as I should thanks to the late work nights.
  • World events – Paris, the Middle East, even the homeless situation right here in Toronto.  Rising crime rates, mass shootings every other week, and a miserable winter – I wish that there was a good news channel.

The Good

  • I am proud that I got through such a difficult year with more perspective and yes, my sanity.  I still have a sense of humour and now I also have the knowledge that I can get through just about anything.
  • Focusing on conquering my fears and setting new goals for myself resulted in me getting my driver’s license (finally), getting first aid certified and trying a host of things like axe throwing, archery and rib boating that I never would have done in the past.
  • Seeing the way people in my life have handled bad news gave me a new respect for them.
  • Traveling with the Frousins – always a good thing.
  • Decluttering really does make you feeler freer and the process, even though it’s a lengthy one, is very satisfying.
  • Learning to cook – it’s very relaxing for me – I never thought that I would say that!
  • Life in general – if you have one, it’s always a good thing!

I usually think of New Year’s as a time to start fresh and make resolutions that I sometimes will keep.  This year, I have a different outlook.  2016 is a brand new year, but each day, we can change our lives.  We don’t need a new calendar to do it.  I wish you all health and happiness and all the best for the New Year.

Until 2016, I remain, gratefully yours,

Jill

 


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Satanic Starbucks and More Kon-fessions

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Image courtesy of starbucks.com

I know, I know, I’m late to the party, but I just wanted to add my thoughts to the recent craziness around Starbucks latest holiday design.  Umm…can we say, get a real problem?  There are people being starving all around the world, there’s homelessness, there are terrorist attacks, there are children being trafficked and abused (at least Jared the Subway guy is safely sandwiched away in prison) and animals being tortured or abandoned and there is Donald Trump!  The best that people can do is come together to protest that Starbucks didn’t put a snow flake – a sign of precipitation not Christianity – on it’s cups this year?  I would understand the upset if year after year they put the Nativity Scene on their cups – which to me, a Jewish person, is the true meaning of Christmas – but they don’t.  I looked back at designs of yesteryear and they included, but were not limited to snowflakes, reindeer, skating scenes, snowmen (or since we are politically correct snow people, snow women or snow people that may be transgendered) and a Christmas ornament.

I wish people a Merry Christmas or best wishes on whatever holiday they are celebrating (I’ve written about this before – remember my rant last year about calling a Christmas Tree just that?).  If I don’t know what religion they follow, it’s a generic happy holidays.  I believe that people should be able to celebrate whatever they want or not celebrate at all.  A coffee cup to me doesn’t signify anything other than a vessel for holding my tall, no foam, skinny vanilla latte (sometimes I ask for it extra hot, because I can).  If you followed the true meaning of the holidays then the people so up in arms over Starbucks would spend their $4 on a charity and put their money to better use.  If a red and green snowman less cup is your biggest problem, I’d gladly trade you – it’s been a rough year.

Now back to more Oz related pursuits AKA decluttering.  I’ve continued the KonMari method outlined in “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.      I can see why she says it takes up to 6 months – it’s been a huge job.  In the last few weeks, I’ve had to go slightly outside of her order – I’m supposed to be working on papers – and moved to CDs, tapes, VHS tapes, DVDs, etc.  Worry not, I did still manage to get rid of a big bag of paper (shredded) and a small recycling bin of notebooks and other paper-like sundries,  but I still have a bit of ways to go on that project.  I did manage to get rid of the following:

  • 84 cassette tapes – who needs them?
  • 16 CDs – just the ones I never listen to – I haven’t digitized my other CDs yet – that may not happen for awhile
  • 3 old VHS movies – I’m going to try posted my Disney movies on Kijiji
  • Assorted knick knacks
  • More dishes

This week, I’m posted more stuff on Kijiji to see where I net out with the collectibles and I’m going to finish off my papers.  Next week, it’s skin cream (easy), make up and accessories.  I know – fun times – right?  I’ll keep you posted on my progress, but see below for the load from two weeks ago:

Value Village is now the proud owner of 5 more boxes from Casa Schneiderman.  In case you are getting sick of my decluttering posts, I know I am, tune in for an exclusive 3 part series with a Dietician.  You learn…actually, you’ll have to come back to read more…

 

 


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The Sadness of Soft Toys and The Royal Treatment at Value Village

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Decluttering means saying good-bye to old friends.  I’ll miss Melvin, Pookie and Pink Poodle, but every once you have to let go of something that you love to make room for more peace in your life.  Ok, that was me trying to be deep.  The truth is, Melvin’s sunglasses were falling off, Pookie doesn’t exist and Pink Poodle may be unimaginative, but I’m also the girl that gave her stuffed animals classic names like Teddy, Pink Bunny and Blue Bunny when I was growing up.  Nothing wrong with being literal.  The stuffed animals didn’t seem to mind.  Pink Poodle was given to me by one of my dearest friends to remind me of the time that I gave myself a really bad bang trim.  She also bought me a giggling, burping beanie baby that sounds vaguely like me.

It was more than time for me to give away my soft toys to a loving home.  It was also time to get rid of dishes that weren’t being used, glasses that were collecting dust and knick knacks that were more nicked than knacked.  Where did the 5 cases and one garbage bag of home clutter go?  Value Village.  I have to say – dropping my old dishes and toys off was an amazing experience – they treat you like royalty.  Just stop at the donation drop off entrance and out come a couple of big strong men to take a load off your hands.  All I did was point and I got to have everything carried away.  All of the proceeds from Value Village go to charity and they help keep your worn items out of landfills.  They even take orphan socks – who knew?  Check out https://www.valuevillage.com/donate/what-we-take to see what you can donate.  Best experience at a charity ever.

In addition to the 2 sets of dishes, dozen glasses, 16 stuffed animals, etc. that left my abode, I also noticed that my building was doing a hazardous waste drop off.  I scurried down with 5 cans of old paint.  Remember, as freeing as it is to declutter, you also should be environmentally responsible dear readers.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get this little project finished.  Next on the list is sorting papers and even I can’t make that task fun and interesting.  I may have to combine it with something a little more entertaining…maybe Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest health advice?  Stay tuned to find out more.


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KonFessions

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After reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and learning more about the KonMari method, I have dedicated the next few months to decluttering like I’ve never decluttered before.  Dr. Oz and Marie Kondo are both right – you feel less stress when you have fewer items clogging up your life (and surroundings).

As you can see from the above tower of clothing – this weekend, in between outings, I continued to work on my clothes.  I’m no longer a smugly mcsmuglord like I was last year.  I’ve had to stop saying look how much I’ve gotten rid of you peons and take a really hard took at what I was hanging onto – which Kondo forces you to do.  I had t-shirts from university – granted that was only a couple of years ago, because I’m so young, ok maybe more than a couple of years, but I never wanted to get did of them because they represented some of the best times of my life.  As I read the book, I became aware that even if the sweatshirt and t-shirts go, I’ll still remember everything.  That was also true for some t-shirts that I got on trips when I first started travelling.  I never wore the shirts, even when I was younger I knew that they were Glamour Fashion Don’ts, but I held onto them like a dutiful pack rat.  I’m happy to say they are all gone, along with a whole bunch of other clothes that fit into 4 garbage bags for donation and 1 for actual trash.  For those of you that are curious, and no judgment if you are, here is a tally of my dearly departed clothes:

  • 5 coats
  • 1 scarf
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • 4 purses
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of boots
  • 1 blouse
  • 1 dress
  • 1 shawl
  • 2 bodysuits
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 13 camis and tank tops
  • 9 pairs of socks
  • 26 sweaters
  • 22 tops
  • 21 t-shirts
  • 6 sweat shirts
  • 1 belly dancing belt

I didn’t talk to my clothes like Kondo suggests in her book, thanking them for their service.  I also played music which she doesn’t recommend.  I did enjoy the process and it’s nice being able to see my colour coded clothes (something that I’ve always done) – don’t laugh, it makes life easier.  I feel like my clothes can breathe, and that because they aren’t jammed together so tightly, maybe I won’t have pilling on my favourite sweaters.  A girl can dream right?  I probably didn’t get rid of enough to pare my wardrobe down to KonMari standards, but I’m very happy with what I kept and don’t miss a single item that I threw out or donated.

The next item on Kondo’s list, and I am going in order, is books.  I got rid of 29 books in total.  Konfession – I still had books from my PR days, a few other text books and a number of books that there was no hope that I’d ever read.  All text books are now disposed of – I realized that I thought, perhaps, that I may refer to them, and guess what?  They’ve never been opened – they sat on my shelf like sad orphans wishing that I’d sold them to another student.

BIG KONFESSION (spelling intended-it’s a play on KonMari)!  I finally realized that I wasn’t going to ever read “The English Patient”.  Bigger KONFESSION – I hated the movie.  I can admit it now, but way back when it came out, it was frowned upon to not rave about the snore-fest, I mean film.  So as a dutiful snob, I went out and bought the book thinking of how sophisticated I’d look reading the book as the weirdo next to me on the subway clips his nails (yes, it happens).  More books than I can write about are being donated to my condo’s library and Value Village.  I thank them for taking space up on my shelf, but now it’s time to set them free.  I feel very KonMari saying that.  See below for what is affectionately known as “the pile”.

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Until next time, happy decluttering!


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Driving Miss Daisy, KonMari and Other Things to be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!

This weekend was a very busy one with Frousin time, Family Thanksgiving on Sunday and Thanksgiving with friends that are like family today.  In between, I also had my fifth and sixth driving lessons and have started to take the advice of Marie Kondo – author of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

Conquering fears, trying to de-stress and decluttering is really what my Dr. Oz journey has been about this year.  Driving is another fear that I am conquering – especially driving in a big city.  It’s an adjustment driving again, but every time I get behind the wheel, I feel a little less Miss Daisy, and a little more like I can do this – I can drive faster than 60 kilometres an hour!  I can do a 3-point turn!  I can drive without running anyone over!  I still have a ways to go and need a little more confidence – don’t we all – but I believe I’ll be ready for my road test in December.  Wish me luck – or wish yourselves luck if you happen to be a Toronto driver.

In addition to driving, I also have spent a good deal of time starting my next round of decluttering.  I know that I wrote many a post about this last year.  Like a Smugly McSmug Lady, I bragged about all of the things that I was getting rid of…then I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” and realized that my work has just begun.  The book divides your home into different categories (part of the KonMari method) and suggests that you tackle one category before you move on to another.  You don’t purge rooms – you purge categories.  I’ve started with tops, as Marie Kondo suggests starting with clothing and even tells you down to the item, what order you should do this in.  Some of her suggestions are hooey – I’m not going to say hi to my home or thank my clothes for serving me, but I do see her point about getting rid of things that you no longer love or have no use for.  I also understand her advice about getting rid of things that you may have an emotional attachment to  – the memory will still be there, but the item of clothing or knick knack no longer needs to take up space.  So far, I have a mouton of clothes, literally, that I’m either going to donate or toss.  It’s a lot more than I expected after last year…but it’s been cleansing in more ways than one.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress, with photos.  Dr. Oz will be very proud of me, and in a weird way, it is relaxing.

As it’s Thanksgiving, I should express some sort of gratitude…but I have to say, it’s been a bit of a challenge this year.  I’m always grateful for family and friends, but I think that right now, I’m the most thankful for the life lessons that I’ve learned this year.  Right now, the lesson that I’m learning is that it’s ok to get rid of possessions but it’s also ok to keep what you really love.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you are in the process of it yourself.


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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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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.