Tuesday, January 6, 2015


verb (used with object), oomphasized, oomphasizing
to add a little flair, or "oomph" to a person, idea or object

We will be oomphasizing that committee roster to give it some new life

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dr. Martin Broff suggests a new tax deduction

I was hoping I'd have one of those crazy pictures of my forearm to share tonight. You know the ones of the allergy prick tests that show 30+ injection points where the specialists tries to determine what allergens trigger a reaction.

You know - one that looks like this.

Or maybe this? 

But I don't. 

Not only do I not have pictures, but I have no remarkable allergies. Said Dr. Martin Broff at South Shore Allergy and Asthma, "There is nothing I can do to alleviate your poison ivy. And your seasonal (various pollen) and perennial (cat) allergies are unremarkable enough that neither prick testing nor immunology treatments are really needed." 

After seeing my weak smile, he continued, "I'm afraid I'm disappointed you."

Yup. That was disappointing news. But not surprising.  While I didn't get a cool picture or a breakthrough on how to manage my allergies, I did learn somethings during my 45 minute consult. 

Top ten things I learned while talking with Dr. Martin Broff
10. Contact dermatitis is a chemical allergic reaction that happens at a cellular level. Because of this, it can take up to five days for a reaction to fully emerge. 
9. Contact dermatitis is fundamentally different from, say, a ragweed allergy, which is a result of a protein binding/cleaving deficiency that takes place almost immediately. 
8. There are three ways to treat allergies - avoidance, medication and immunotherapy (aka allergy shots).
7. The number one allergy is to dust mites. And the number two is to cats. 
6. The number one allergy trigger in schools is cats. Not because there are cats in schools (as a general rule), but because cat allergens, like dust mites and pollen, is everywhere. 
5. OTC medications that treat the symptoms, like Claritin and Allegra, are generally as good as the prescription stuff.
4. Nasal sprays, like flonase, just became available OTC last month. 
3. There used to be immunotherapy treatments for poison ivy. But they didn't work. In fact, said Dr. Broff, "they actually did some damage." 
2. While goat-scaping is intriguing as an strategy for eliminating poison ivy, at least annually, there is no guarantee that the allergen won't be found in whatever is touched by whatever is eliminated by the goats. 

And the number 1 most important thing I learned while talking to the allergist? 

If mattress covers and air duct cleanings are deductible as a legitimate medical expense for people with traditional allergies, then it stands to reason that I may be able to deduct one professional yard cleaning to eliminate the poison ivy each year. 

45 minutes after my appointment ended, I was already back to my daily dose of Claritin. Which I needed because I was turning over dusty piles of paper looking for receipts from the landscaper we hired to eliminate the poison ivy in 2014. (Fingers crossed it works!) 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Health! Home! Adventure!

Through the magic of Twitter, a social media guru popularized the act of declaring three words to define one's intentions for the new year.  My three words for 2015 are "health," "home" and "adventure."

How did I arrive at these three words? Through the following reflections shared with me by my pal Michele Lenox, through the miracle of Facebook.

What are five (or ten) accomplishments of 2014?
1. Completing - and continuing - my elimination diet/"detox" in July with Janelle Casella
2. Paying off the $90,000+ in student loans I had when I finished graduate school in 1997
3. Slogging through 100 happy days
4. Initiating a meditation practice
5. Buying my first ever brand new car
6. Getting a new cat
7. FINALLY building those bookshelves in our living room so I can FINALLY unpack my books
8. Starting to explore where to put my volunteer energy
9. Contributing to winning a major new contract for the company for which I *used* to work
10. Laying the groundwork to start a business with my husband

What were five (or ten) disappointments?
1. 5+ bouts with poison ivy, including one that lingered for six weeks
2. Learning my new car CAN'T accommodate a hitch for a rear kayak rack
3. The continuing sluggishness of the consultant economy
4. Learning my husband's health issues have not yet been resolved
5. Lots of little trips, but no significant vacation

What are three things I focused a majority of my energy on? 
1. For the first ten months of the year, my job
2. My husband's health
3. My eating and exercise habits

What are three things I intended to do, but (doh!) didn't? 
1. Lose 10 pounds
2. Make it all the way through a couch to 5K program (see poison ivy note above)
3. Build a patio/landscape the backyard

What were my game changers - unexpected events or outcomes that made things different for you - in 2014? 
1. Getting a new job - same work, same salary, infinitely shorter commute and infinitely more functional company - in one month rather than the nine to 18 months I was expecting
2. The social upheaval initiated by the events in Ferguson

How do these reflections inform my intentions for 2015?
With the shorter commute and a shift in my attitude about work, my new job opened up more time - to take care of myself, my home, my family, my marriage and my community.

So how to use this time? 2014 reminded me that I love how I feel when I make healthy choices. I love investing in having a beautiful (to me) home and garden. And I feel satisfied when I contribute to making my community a happier and healthier place - particularly for people who may not have the same advantages as I do.

So what are my three words for 2015?

  • Health: This word was selected to remind me that I intend to detox from booze (starting today - oy, that vodka hangover is uncomfortable), get control of my allergies (allergy testing starts on Monday), continue to be in love with my Ninja Bullet and the healthy food it inspires me to make (and eat), and continue to count steps and exercise so I can be ready for outdoor adventures (see below).
  • Home: This word was selected to remind me that I intend to finish building a fence in the backyard so I can have an anchor for my landscaping. I will build raised beds for vegetable gardening along with a woodshed for the fire pit and its accoutrement. And the result, a backyard I can feel proud to entertain in during the summer and early fall. 
  • Adventure: This word is in my list of five priorities and reminds me to continue to try to find adventures in my every day life by (a) working to live (as opposed to living to work), (b) developing a mindfulness practice through meditation and writing, and (c) generally being actively engaged with my life, my family and my community(It also reminds me to buy a kayak rack so I can have kayak adventures near and far, work towards launching the business BMG and I care cooking up, and and to begin getting excited about the two-week vacation in Europe BMG and I are taking to celebrate his birthday)

What about you? What are your three words for 2015? And what is the story of how you selected them and what they mean for you?