The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

And Other Stories


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Happy Birthday to You…

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(Photo courtesy of Michele’s birthday in 2015)

…Mummy!  I know that it may be awhile before you read this, but the sentiment will keep.  If I ever had any doubt about the type of person that you are (which I never have), the outpouring of love and affection from your family, friends, doctors (who else can charm the uncharmable into loading them up with pastries) and even the people who work in your building are a lesson to me on how to live a good life.  Whenever people talk about you to me, it’s always about how wonderful you are, what an inspiration you are, how sweet, and how you never complain.  It’s all true (except you, sweet?  Please.).

I’ve seen first hand your triumphs and your challenges.  Your triumphs are usually winning a bet with me like our Super Bowl bet.  In my defence, I know nothing about football, but at least I never welch when it’s time to pay up like some people that I know.   Nothing makes you happier than beating me – luckily for me, I don’t lose often.  Although you may lose the odd bet, you are one of the sharpest people that I know.  You are also quite a little socialite.  Your phone never stops ringing – another testament to how much you are loved by your family and friends.

I admire you for so many reasons, too numerous to count really, but watching you face adversity this last while has really shown me what you are made of.  You never quit, you never give up, and I’ve never been prouder of you.  Whenever I was sick as a child, you would come into my room as I lay in bed, checking on me, taking my temperature, or just trying to comfort me.  You looked down at me, and I looked up at you, reassured that I would feel better soon because you were there to take care of me.  I know that it’s frustrating to now be in a position where the roles are reversed, but I still look up to you.  That won’t change.

You are still the strongest, smartest, funniest woman that I know.  You have a curiosity and interest in so many different things.  You have the best sense of humour.  I’m glad that we still have moments where we can laugh.  I’m grateful to be your daughter, and I’m so grateful to get to celebrate another birthday with you.

 


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No Approval Required

chrissie

Some years ago, I’m not going to say how many to protect the innocent and not so innocent, I started my career in media.  Citytv was unique – everyone thought it was the number one station in Toronto – it was legendary.  It was the little station that could, and the coolest one around.  We were number 3, but if you are going to be number 3, be the best number 3 you can be.  I was beyond excited and on my first day, my then boss gave me a whispered warning – don’t ruin my relationship with the Cityline producer, and whatever you do, don’t get on her bad side.  Quivering on the inside, I was taken around to be introduced to a bunch of people whose names escaped me for awhile, then I was introduced to Chrissie Rejman.

Diminutive, with a British accent, and a slightly bored expression, at least when speaking with this newbie, she said hello, as she looked me up and down, then said her still famous line, “Well, of course you’ve seen Cityline.”  Of course, I responded, a little to eagerly, and went on to say how much I loved Fashion Friday and Mega Makeover Madness!  I was rewarded with a small nod.  Back in those days when streaming services didn’t exist and VHS meant something other than VERY HOMELY SUCKER, we taped our favourite shows and this show was one that made the cut.  If you aren’t familiar with Cityline, it is an interactive lifestyle show with themed days and as it’s producer always said, it’s advice your best girlfriend would give you.  Chrissie was the producer from it’s inception in 1984 until June 30th, 2016.

After many months, and a HUGE project, Chrissie started taking a liking to me, I think she realized that I cared about her show and was willing to work hard.  She even gave me an end credit a few times, I never told her how thrilled I was by that.  Many of you fast forward the credits, but knowing the work that goes into production, I always try to read them.  As time went on, my admiration for Chrissie grew and I started to not only see her as a producer that I had to be able to work with, but a dear friend and mentor.  We started having after work chats at least once a week.  These calls started as I often needed to get approvals for story ideas for clients, but then became our time to vent, and laugh and sometimes even cry.

To know Chrissie is to understand that there was a going to be a certain rhythm to the approval process.  First came the no, with a mild insult.  Often it was “vile”, “ridiculous”, a disgusted sigh or even “Jill, how can you ask me to do this?”.   I’d say “OK Chrissie, I get it”, we’d have a little laugh, then say goodbye.  Then, I’d count down 5, 4, 3, 2…ring (I’d smile to myself as I picked up the phone)!  “Jill, I can’t do that dreadful integration, but here is what I can do…” – 90% of the time, it was always more than I’d ever ask for, and a better idea.

Outside of coming up with good sales integrations, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons from my friend:

  • Remain ageless – it really is just a number
  • Stay passionate about what you love
  • Care about everything that has your name on it
  • There are a million ideas out there, you just have to look for them
  • If someone is applying for a job with you and they tell you that they are a people person, say “Really, I don’t” to see how they react.  I haven’t tried this one, but it’s a brilliant line
  • Keep your friends close and don’t worry about your enemies
  • Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, even if it’s a fight you aren’t going to win
  • Pick someone that you are inspired by to be your mentor – I did, and she never let me down.  I didn’t realize how much of a mentor Chrissie was to me until I found out she was leaving, then I thought back to all of the life lessons that I acquired over time just by listening to her, and realized how inspired I am by this woman
  • The older you get, the bigger the bigger the jewelry you should wear.  If you want to try wearing big jewelry, own it.  Chrissie is 5 feet (ok a little less than that) and tiny, and she pulls it off

Chrissie – I’ll never quite get the right words to tell you how much you mean to me.  You have been my comfort and my constant at work.  You’ve made me laugh harder and cry harder than I ever thought possible.  You are going to do great things – I don’t doubt that.  You are vital, strong and brilliant.  I love being your friend and I can’t wait to see what you do next.

 


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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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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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Embracing Emotion

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My grandmother at 18.

In “You Being Beautiful”, Drs. Oz and Roizen write the following: “Our goal here shouldn’t be to ignore emotions when they come up – whether we are reacting painfully to the loss of a loved one…Our goal should be to observe emotions – and learn to think with these emotions to help give our lives even deeper meaning.” (page 321).  Today is the anniversary of my grandmother’s death and it seemed an appropriate time to finally write something all about her so that I’m not ignoring the emotions that I feel.  My eldest sister has asked me for a long time why I don’t write about her.  I think she knows…she is intuitive in a way that very few people are, even if she doesn’t know it herself.  I haven’t written a full entry on my grandmother, because it’s so painful for me to write about her in the past tense that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

In February, I wrote about my grandfather, https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/a-true-gift/ and it was so much easier talking about him, maybe because I lost him at such a young age.  My Bobbi (that’s how she spelled it – some spell it Bubbie – either way, it’s Yiddish for grandmother) was my perfect person, the one that I related to and adored the most.  I can tell you a million reasons why, but probably the biggest reason is that what I got from her was unconditional love.  It was demonstrated in the small things that she did that seemed huge at the time.  It was when my sisters and I would visit her (she lived in Ottawa, we lived in Nova Scotia) and she would light up when she saw us come in the door.  It was the fact that she always made the same welcome lunch when we’d visit – baked macaroni and cheese, just slightly overdone exactly like we liked it, with a pitcher of chocolate milk in the refrigerator and her amazing home made chocolate cake for dessert.  It was knowing that she’d have our favourite cereal that we couldn’t get at home in her cupboard.  It was the way every day that we were there, she had something else baked for us.  You can have your grandparents that spoil you with diamonds, my grandmother spoiled us with love and that was her answer for everything.  I would ask her why everything that she made tasted so good and her answer was always the same, “Because I made it with love.”  And I knew that she did.

When my sisters would go to sleep away camp, I’d get my grandmother all to myself for 7 weeks (well, my mother was there too, but I was #1).  These were some of the best times of my life.  We’d go for walks every day – mostly so that my grandmother could take me for a treat – she was worried that I was too skinny.  Thanks Bobbi – you’ve more than taken care of that childhood problem.  As we would walk by, I’d see her greet her neighbours.  They looked so much older than she did – my Bobbi looked young with hardly any grey in her hair, even though she never dyed it.  I finally had to ask her why all of her friends were senior citizens.  I had never seen her laugh so hard or be so flattered.  She loved telling people that story, because even if I didn’t know it,  she was part of that club.  She was the grandmother who found us all so charming that we could do no wrong in her eyes and in return, in my eyes at least, she was and still is perfect.

Leaving her was so painful for me, or having her leave when she would come for a visit.  I’d sit in her lap, crying inconsolably.  When I got too big for her to hold, she’d give me a big hug and tell me that she had to go because she loved her home.  She would recite a little poem from a ceramic iron that she bought in Bermuda to help me understand “My house is small, no mansion for a millionaire.  But there is room for love and there is room for friends.  That’s all I care.”  I have that iron sitting next to me as I write this entry.  She loved her house, I think, because that was where she spent her married life with my grandfather and she adored him.  She never stopped missing him and her house was where her memories of him were the strongest.  I shouldn’t call it a house though, it was home for all of us.

I could spend all day listing all of the things that she did with me like taking me to the very fancy (at least in my eyes) Green Valley with my great aunt for lunch or playing games with me or just reading to me.  I could tell you how she watched the best TV shows – Wonder Woman, Matt Houston, Charlie’s Angel’s or best of all – The Golden Girls!  We would watch that show and laugh together every single time.  She thought Sophia was a hoot.  I could tell you how she was a lady, and carried herself like royalty.  Even when people see her picture, they think she looks like a queen.  I could tell you that she never had an unkind word for anyone, although I’m sure she felt hurt at times, she never showed it.  I could tell you that her house could pass a white glove test.  I could tell you that even though she was ill at ease around dogs, she would always give my dog a careful little pat of the head – and he was very gentle with her because he could tell how nervous she was.  I could tell you that whenever we’d get up after reading together that she would always give me a hug that my mother would always walk in on and spout “Oh – the pals”.  In her defence, when I was growing up, I had a duo photo frame filled my two favourite people – my Bobbi and my dog.  Stiff competition and I’m sure that must have hurt her feelings.  Sorry Mummy.

I could tell you a million little things about my grandmother but it would never explain how much I miss her every single day.  It would never explain how I would give anything to spend just a little bit of time with her.  It would never explain how even today, so many years after she has gone, I still wish I could hear her say “Jilly, come to Bobbi” when I was crying and how it would make everything better.  It would never explain how much I wish I was more like her but she was in a class by herself.

Today, I am grateful that my Bobbi never had to leave the home that she loved and that she was never so sick that she had to change her life.  The day she died, she went for tea with her friends, visited with her beloved nephew, watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and then felt sick and had to go to the hospital.  She never suffered.  I can’t tell you how grateful that I am that I had her for 17 years of my life.  It was a gift.