Sunday, April 15, 2012

On the Topic of Success Against Odds

"Inspiration is for amateurs.
The rest of us just show up and get to work.
Every great idea I've ever had grew out of work itself."


Friday, March 30, 2012

Right Back At Ya

I was shocked to bring up a website the other day and see my very own face staring back at me. I instantly grabbed my cell phone to text my son, because there was his face was right next to mine on the screen.

You may remember that two years ago, our family found ourselves in a situation where we needed to ask for some help. Thanks to the Modest Needs Foundation, we received it and my son was provided with an opportunity that gave him a strong start in college, a place that once seemed out of reach for him.

When I say our Modest Needs experience was a gift I’ll never forget, it’s as much about how a generous act can turn one’s life around as it is about the monetary help we received.

So when Modest Needs Executive Director Keith Taylor asked if we'd mind being featured on their redesigned website, I happily agreed. (A professional photo shoot that included an incredibly talented television biz make-up artist? Why, I’d be happy to oblige!) A couple months went by and we hadn’t heard whether our story would be selected to be featured on the home page.

Then suddenly, there we are. Along with a fashionably hip new look, Modest Needs has also invested in technology to make it easier to find your way around the website, search applications, and process your donation to a specific deserving person you’d like to help. It’s a unique model of charitable giving, legitimate and highly rated, and the most personal way I know to do some good in the world.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

“Excuse Me, How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?”

Blog inspiration grabs me in the funniest places.

At the symphony, for example.

Like many a musical child, I remember being taught that Ludwig van Beethoven had become completely deaf by the time he composed his most magnificent symphonies. He never heard so much as a single note of his most famous pieces.

So why did I get goosebumps as I sat next to my own musical daughter and heard the tale yet again from Philadelphia Orchestra Assistant Conductor Cristian Macelaru at a recent preconcert talk? Because life experience now gives such stories deeply personal perspective.

Maestro Macelaru described how, when Beethoven realized there was no reversing his descent into silence, he began to fill notebook after notebook with simple scales. The composer was contemplating suicide. But, as Beethoven wrote, “it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me.” And so he toiled for days upon end to commit perfectly to memory each distinct tone of every musical scale.

If not for the simple scales transcribed like a beginner student, there would be no Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Or Beethoven’s Third, which describes through instrumental music his struggles with failing health and which he called “The Heroic Symphony.”

It was completed not long after his return from a respite in the German town of Heiligenstadt where he penned a secret letter to his brothers, revealed to them after his death. (Don’t leave until you’ve read it here.)

So how did Beethoven (or at least his music) get to Carnegie Hall? “Practice, my dear. Practice.”


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Joyfully Riding the Downside of the Bell Curve

When I’m not writing about how to improve face time with your doctor, I’ll often focus on avoiding becoming a patient in the first place. It occurred to me this morning that it’s actually been awhile since our family has been in the throes of medical treatment.

Our own journey began a dozen years ago at just about this time of year, and I can pinpoint the moment exactly -- when a song broke the decorum of a business meeting. It took me a few seconds to realize the noise was coming from my purse and that my first cell phone, purchased just weeks before, was ringing to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” On the phone was the unsteady voice of a woman who identified herself as a substitute nurse at the elementary school. My son had had a seizure, and an ambulance was on the way. Could I come as soon as possible?

That day marked the beginning of a journey that became increasingly hellish over about six years. Then, around the time my son hit sophomore year of high school, things began to level out. It actually took a couple more years of holding our collective breath before we dared to think maybe he was past the worst of this medical crisis. After he graduated, things really began to look up and now, although he still battles symptoms and side effects daily, his medical condition does not consume his daily life and that of the entire family.

Of course the healthy status quo could turn on a dime, concerning my son or anyone else in the family. But for now I’ll believe we’ve scaled a peak and are coasting the down slope. How I’d love to keep it that way.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jealous When Other People Walk My Dog

Early morning dog walking duty goes to my husband. But come dinnertime, I’m grateful to have a pooch who gives purpose to taking a stroll around the neighborhood. That puppy dog who needs a walk when I really don’t feel so motivated to get my body moving is probably adding years to my life. You’ll understand then why I get pouty when Dear Husband or one of the kids announces they’re in the mood to take the dog out. They just don’t get it. That’s my time to get motivated with my little 30-pound personal fitness coach. Jealous? You bet.

What do you do to get your rear in gear? My dog might be my motivation to actually put on the sneakers and head out the door, but the statistical information (presented in some really creative ways) is what convinced me that exercise doesn’t have to be a hard core session at some sweaty gym to make a difference.

Take a look:
Thank goodness for cartoons to keep one's attention through a dry medical lecture on a miracle "intervention" that will control all sorts of medical conditions -- presented with a wink and a smile ;)

If you've been reading for awhile, you know I'm a fan of Walk With a Doc. Here are a bunch of reminders why it's fun to take a walk. Also, Dr. Sabgir's latest newsletter gives 100 reasons to get moving - who could argue?

"Inactivity" and "low fruits and vegetables." Might as well throw a housewarming party for all sorts of cancers.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The PLC Doctor's Memo: New & Improved

We hope you've had a chance to try out our free download, the Patient Loving Care Doctor's Memo. Our toolkit guides you through collecting your thoughts, noting down important information and questions for your next visit, and then presenting your thoughts to the doctor articulately and succinctly once you get into the exam room. In today's time-crunched world, it's critically important that your healthcare team understands fully how you're feeling and what you think you may need to know before you walk out the door to be on your way.

We've done a little tweaking to make the toolkit a bit easier to use. We've expanded the instructions and combined them with the sample doctor's memo so everything you need to guide you is in one place. We kept the memo template as a separate file so it's easy to hit "Save As..." and create a fresh copy on your computer every time you have an appointment.

Please take our revised Doctor's Memo Toolkit for a spin and let us know what you think. Do you have any questions about the instructions? Have you used it for a doctor's visit? How did it go?

Doctor's don't like to rush through appointments any more than patients do. So your doc will be grateful you're making the most of your limited time together by coming in with a well-prepared memo. A friendly hello and a time-saving copy of your memo will be a welcome break in their hectic day.