Google is not always the answer

In a world where we rely heavily on technology and the internet, do you ever step back and think “Is this the best way?” Have we grown so accustom to using Google and other technologies to help us solve everyday problems that we forget that there’s alternate ways in solving them… like, asking a real-life human being?

Last week, I probably made the biggest mistake you can make when trying to find a new doctor… I Googled it. I didn’t ask for a referral, I didn’t ask friends, I simply just Googled and chose the top result in Google Places since it was close to work. Even better, they had an online appointment book to schedule your visit. However, I wanted to make sure they took my insurance, and after scouring their website up and down and couldn’t find which insurances they accepted, I sucked it up and actually called the office. The phone call was quick, painless and best of all, they took my insurance and had an open appointment for Friday, which was 2 days later. I was happy that I had finally made an appointment for something I’ve been putting off for months now and everything seemed to be going swimmingly.

Finally, Friday came. I left work early, found the office fairly easily and had already filled out all of the necessary paperwork (you could print them right off the website). I paid my specialty doctor co-pay (since this was a dermatologist) and took a seat in the quiet, bland waiting room. Not even 2 minutes later, the nurse came out and whisked me away to the examination room. Not bad, right? No wait time, no other patients in the office, this was going fairly well!

Not even a minute after the nurse left, the doctor walked in and this was where the whole experience went sour. She rushed her introduction, I still don’t know her name, and barely asked me why I was there. She cut me off while I was trying to tell her my issues and automatically decided to put me on one of the harshest skin medications on the market. I told her my hesitations about going on that specific drug and she snapped back at me “What, are you afraid of suicide?” From that point on, she had the “I know better than you” attitude and wouldn’t even listen to anything I had to say. In the 7-minute exam (no exaggeration, the exam was 7-minutes long), she left the room for 2 minutes after I turned down the medication. When she returned, she didn’t even look at my problem areas, or ask any questions. She became abrasive and made me, the patient, feel like I was wasting her time. She finally told me she was going to prescribe me a pill and 2 creams, but “they probably won’t work” and then left the exam room. No “thank you for coming in.” No “nice to meet you.” No “have a good day.” Nothing. It took me a minute to realize that the exam was over. I walked out of the office feeling really small and upset that I had spent my specialty doctor co-pay (which is $25 more than my regular co-pay) on a 7-minute exam that barely yielded any results.

After the exam, I went back to Google. This time, I wasn’t looking for a new dermatologist. No, this time, I decided to read reviews and ratings on this specific doctor to see if I was the only one who had an awful experience. I wasn’t. I found a few sub-par ratings from other patients describing the same embarrassing and unhelpful ordeal that I had gone through.

I then decided to ask friends who live in the area if they knew of any dermatologists. One did, and described this perfect doctor: someone who listened, who really understood what you needed, who actually examined the problem areas. I needed to know where I could find this doctor. Turns out, this lovely doctor was in the same office I had just come from. Two doctors run the practice and I happened to get the the not-so-lovely doctor instead. Go figure.

I’ve learned my lesson. If I need a doctor, a dentist, a specialist, whatever, I will not use Google as my main resource. I’m sure that Google has helped millions of people link up with a great doctor, however, after this awful experience, I’d rather not leave anything to chance. I learned to ask friends, call my general doctor for a referral, look for ratings and reviews and really do my research before making an appointment.

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#KidPresident

“Boring is easy! Everybody can be boring but you’re gooder than that!” #kidpresident

I found this video Saturday morning through a friend on Facebook. This person isn’t a close friend; it’s someone I barely even know anymore (the last day I saw him had to be high school graduation day) but his post of this video on my newsfeed caught my eye. I am so glad I watched this video.

It’s easy to forget to have fun as an adult. With bills, responsibilities, and stress taking over, sometimes I lose sight of just pure childhood fun. This video was truly inspiring. This 10-year old boy just wants you to stop being boring and to enjoy life. He wants you to DANCE whenever you can and to just be awesome. Now, that’s something I can believe in.

Hope you enjoy this video as much as I do. It’s nice to be reminded of the happy, little things in this world.

Sometimes, You Get Sick & Need Rest

“There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.”
– Henry David Thoreau 

So, I caught the flu. Not the “I have a head cold and feel like I have the flu” flu. It was the “I can’t get off the couch, can’t stop sneezing, can’t lift my arms because they ache too bad” flu that had me knocked out for 4 days straight. Thank God for my boyfriend and Sudafed, otherwise, I don’t think I would have gotten better so quickly. (Although 4 days of lying on the couch [2 of which were work days] is not considered “quick” in my book).

Being laid up on the couch for 4 days straight was probably something I needed, but definitely not something I wanted. I am someone who needs to be doing something at all times. In college, I filled my day with projects, classes, meetings… I was constantly busy. Now that I’ve graduated and am working full-time, I still fill my days with plans: gym classes, dinner dates, boyfriend time, running errands, etc. I tried to do things while I was sick but lost energy quickly. I always ended up back on the couch, watching Law & Order reruns and grabbing cat naps when I could clear my nose enough to breathe. Rest was definitely something I needed, physically and mentally. Being able (or forced due to illness) to “shut down” for 4 days does wonders for your health.

I’m still feeling a bit muddy and cloudy but at least I’m up off the couch and not achy any longer. I’m at work today and still recovering – tissues and hand sanitizer with me at my desk. I’m taking it easy for the rest of the week, especially with my gym routine – not trying to over do it and end up back on the couch, sick again.

Cheers to a happy, healthy and fun 2013

Happy New Year! 

I cannot believe that 2013 is actually here. I feel like I’ve been talking about the year 2013 for forever and still can’t get over that it’s actually the present – no longer the future. My sister got engaged in 2011. They set the date for May of 2013. Plenty of time to plan, save and enjoy being engaged. “2013? That’s so far away!” – what I said when I heard that news… But now, here it is, 2013 and the wedding is in 5 months. Holy cow, time flies.

I used to be in to making New Year’s resolutions but decided to forgo that “tradition” this year in hopes that I would actually stick to the script and continue my success with what I’m doing. I tend to make outlandish resolutions and then get discouraged when i don’t reach them. However, in 2012, I vowed to lose weight and get healthy. I never set a goal as to how much weight I would lose but I was focused and determined to feel comfortable in my own skin and hopefully drop a pant size. January 1, 2012 I joined Weight Watchers and I still say that was one of the best decisions I had made that year. It helped me realize that I needed to change my eating habits in order to succeed. My whole outlook on food has now changed. I needed to realize that in order to lose weight I had to change my eating habits and not just “diet” – it’s a lifestyle change, not a quick fix.

I will admit though, halfway through the year, I hit a wall with Weight Watchers and decided that I knew what I was doing and could continue the success on my own, so I quit WW. Once I did that, and focused on correctly eating, I lost even more weight. WW was a great starting point for me but I’m happy that I’m no longer following that plan and am relying on myself, calorie counts and other ways to ensure weight loss success.

I had also been a gym go-er but was only going maybe twice or three times a week…. when I felt like it. In 2012 I said I was going to up my gym time and go 5 or more times a week…. and I did. There’s a gym at work that’s free for employees so i took advantage of the equipment and jump-started my workout plans. I researched workouts to do on fitness blogs / websites and added them to my gym routines. A good friend, Frank (check out his blog!), sent me the Insanity workouts which increased my cardio and endurance and I really enjoyed that it was something fun to do instead of the treadmill or elliptical at the work gym. I ran in two 5Ks and walked one in 2012, too. In October, thanks to two of my best friends, Laura & Angela (check out her blog, too!), I joined Lucille Roberts and started taking classes (kickboxing, Zumba, tabata) which has really helped me get out of the “same old same” gym routines. I am now going to the gym at least 6 times a week for at least 45 to 60 minutes, sometimes longer. I really enjoy that time for myself. Besides getting in shape, I found that working out relieves my stress and anxiety and makes me feel better, happier.

So all in all, for the year of 2012, I lost 20 pounds, a pant size and 2 dress sizes. My success can only go up (or in my case, down in pounds!) from here. No one else can help me lose weight, this is a journey I have to take by myself for myself. If I want it, I got to work for it. I also have to remember that the number on the scale is just that – a number. It does not define me or my happiness, nor does it define how I feel about myself now.

In 2012, I also told myself I would have a better handle on my money and bills. I started in 2011, but had started too late to actually grasp what needed to be done. So in 2012, I got serious and organized my spending onto an Excel spreadsheet. I listed the month on the “x” axis and the bills/student loans/memberships on the “y” axis and made sure to fill in how much was going out of my bank account for each. I also started keeping track of how much I was receiving each month in my paychecks and how much “play” money I was able to have / save.

I also created a savings account through ING (I recommend ING to everyone I know. I love that I can transfer money from my bank account to this ING account at any time. I also like that it takes at least 2 business days to transfer the money back over from my ING account to my bank account so that eliminates frivolous spending). I try to transfer money to my ING account from every paycheck so that I have that set aside for weddings (my friends’ weddings, my sister’s wedding, showers, gifts, hotels, etc) and for my savings. After all my bills / student loans are paid, I don’t have that much money left but I like knowing that even transferring a little bit helps.

By getting myself organized financially, in August, I was able to move out of my parents’ house in New Jersey and into an apartment in Pennsylvania, which was closer to work. It’s a liberating feeling knowing that I can finally stand on my own two feet and live on my own and pay for my own stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I really miss my family but it was time for me to experience these things on my own.

2012 was a great year for me. Besides losing weight, becoming financially organized and moving out, I witnessed 4 of my closest friends get married (and was a bridesmaid for one), was asked to be the Maid of Honor in my sister’s wedding and have been helping her plan her big day, I took risks on applying for supervisor positions at my job (none of which I got but I was still proud of myself for taking the chance), I challenged myself by running in 2 Color Run 5Ks (the happiest 5k on the planet!), I went to Ocean City, Maryland for the first time and had a blast with my boyfriend and friends from high school, I voted in the Presidential election (I mean, c’mon, that’s pretty cool, haha) and strengthened relationships with friends and family who truly matter.

2013 is looking to be a great year and I’m ready for it.

Writer’s Block

I’ve been trying to write a new blog post for the past hour. Every time I write something, I re-read it, hit ctrl+a, and then delete. Severe writer’s block has come over me.

For being such a loud, opinionated, “typical” Jersey girl, I’ve found that I like to keep my personal business to myself.  Some things are just too personal for me to share, which is why I think it’s hard for me to write this blog. I don’t like to feel vulnerable but I guess sometimes you just have to leave it all out there and be ready for the consequences… something I’m not sure I’m ready to do yet. I really try not to make this a diary, I would like for it to be more objective than that.

Currently, my heart is still grieving for those children and faculty members of Sandy Hook Elementary School killed last Friday in Newtown, CT. Those poor innocent children… killed for no reason. My heart breaks for their families. May they all rest in peace.

Since it’s the holiday season, I try and give back as much as I can. I don’t have a lot of left over money after my bills are paid but I try to give whatever I can.  When I walk into a store and the Salvation Army is there, I try and scrounge up any loose change / dollars I have to feed the bucket. I also bought gifts for a Salvation Army Angel at work, a child in need of a Christmas gift. I sent a Christmas card to a 4-year old child I don’t know who lives permanently at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital because he loves Christmas and loves receiving mail. I know it doesn’t seem like much but at least I know that my small contribution is making someone else’s holiday season a little brighter.

NY Post Front Page: Ethically Correct?

I read this article this morning on Slate (about the subway death photo that was plastered on the front of the NY Post) and I was immediately reminded of the Ethics of Journalism class I had taken my senior year of college. It was taught by this little old man who primarily taught the philosophy classes (I had taken him for Intro to Philosophy the year before and truly enjoyed his teaching style) and we spoke indepth on what was and wasn’t morally correct in journalism. If I remember the class correctly though, I believe everything was up for your own personal interpretation (like if subliminal messaging was wrong, or if product placement was a bad advertising tactic).

In this class, like most college classes, we had a book that we rarely opened. It wasn’t a heavy book but I remember being upset having to pay for a book that we barely used. However, one day, he asked us to open to a specific page. To this day, I still remember the image we studied: black and white, building in the background, with a man falling. The caption read something like: man jumps out of one of the WTC towers on 9/11. The discussion for this photo was whether or not it was ethical to publish these types of photos during such a horrific event. We all knew that it had happened, we had heard about it on the TV, read about it in the newspaper, we knew that some people had chosen to jump…. yet, was it moral to photograph those events? This man was falling to his death, were we to witness that?

That class really got me thinking about what is morally right in these types of instances but the main conclusion was that along with beauty, ethics was something that had to be looked at from the eye of the beholder. Something I believe is immoral could be argued by another that it isn’t. Everything was open to subjectivity and that was where the issues of moral and ethics began and subsequently ended.

When I saw the cover of the NY Post, I was immediately reminded of that discussion – was it ethical to document such a personal moment? Just like the 9/11 photos, was it ethical to have taken this image, a helpless man just mere seconds away from being hit by the train, and then place it on the front page? What does that say about the NY Post? What does that say about the morals of the photographer?

This photo is vulgar, shocking and heartbreaking. Regardless of it being on the front page of the NY Post, what I’m having a hard time comprehending is how does the photographer have the strength to take photos during this time? He states that it was by accident that he took this photo; that he was flashing his camera to grab the attention of the train conductor, but I’m not so sure that I am willing to believe that. I believe I would be paralyzed with fear, disbelief; my brain would probably be running in slow motion — or speed up due to fear – but I’m pretty sure that I would not have thought to take a photo. But then again, I guess it’s not fair for me to speculate on how I would act since I was not there and couldn’t even fathom being there.

I will say this though, the image, in one word, is breathtaking. Breathtaking in a way that you’ve been sucker-punched in your stomach and you’re trying to gasp for air. The same anxiety came over me and I’m left wondering why? I’m very sorry that man was shoved down on the tracks and then moments later struck and killed. What I’m even more sorry about is the fact that his private moment was caught on film. May he rest in peace.

The man who pushed him has turned himself in: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/nightmare_on_subway_tracks_GgvCtkeJj6cTeyxHns2VNP

Let’s give this a whirl…

Just like many of my friends, I am obsessed with Pinterest, the online pin board full of great ideas, crafts and recipes. I find myself constantly refreshing the browser to see if new pins have been added and what goodies they may hold. Once in a while, I’ll find a pin that’s too good not to try so here are a few that I’ve completed successfully.

1. Blackhead Remover – Blackheads have been my biggest nuisance since I hit puberty. They’re always there – they never go away and I swear I’ve tried everything out there to make them disappear. Once, in high school, I was so desperate to get rid of blackheads that I would put egg yolk on my face — I had learned of this idea from a beauty magazine….I didn’t see any results.  So when I saw this blackhead removal pin, I was skeptical but thought “what the heck, I’ve tried everything else!” Plus, it used household ingredients I already own, so I didn’t have to go to the store to pick anything up. I have to say, although it looked weird and bubbly as it dried for the 5 minutes, my face felt a lot smoother and cleaner afterwards and it did reduce the amount of blackheads that you could see on my nose, chin and cheeks. I will definitely be doing this again.

2. Interval Treadmill Workout – I hate running on a treadmill but I despise running outside when it’s cold out even more, so, usually, I suck it up and try to do the quickest treadmill run ever. It’s not that I don’t think the treadmill is a great exercise tool, I just get BORED! Same scenery, nothing new to look at, no wind in my face…. it’s just boring. That is, it was boring until I found this interval treadmill workout. This workout is a quick 20-minutes (or longer if you want) that leaves you feeling great afterwards. Set the incline to 2 and then every few minutes you’re increasing or decreasing the speed. I had to alter the chart the first few times i did it (there was no way I was going to be able to run at level 7 on my first try) and I’ve increased the speed little by little. When I start to get bored with the treadmill workout, I know I have to kick it up a notch. Now, I look forward to runs on the treadmill – plus, interval training helps burn fat faster.

3. Kick My Butt Cardio Workout – In order for me to feel sufficient in my workouts, I need to sweat. If I don’t sweat, I feel like the workout wasn’t as successful and I need to push myself harder. I try to switch up my workouts often so I don’t get stuck in a rut and I was so excited when I found this on Pinterest. It reminds me of Shaun T.’s Insanity workouts that I did this summer and it’s quick and effective. After this workout I left feeling accomplished (well, I left hurting, winded and sore, but I felt accomplishment in there, too!).

4. Delicious Apple Snack – I eat an apple every morning and I like a certain type and taste of apple (can’t be too sour, or squishy and the skin shouldn’t just peel off when you bite, there should be more of a crunch). I’m very particular about my apples but figured I’d give this recipe a try so I bought a lemon and an orange and let the apple sit in the juices over night. Let me tell you, this was delicious. I wouldn’t eat it everyday, it was a tad too sweet, but it was definitely something I’d make again. Plus, 3 fruits in 1 snack – count me in!

5. Windshield De-Icer – I actually tried this pin this morning! We had a little snow fall yesterday so I knew that my windshield would be iced over this morning when I left for work. I hate having to defrost my car because it takes too long and it’s cold, so anything to shorten that process is definitely worth trying. I bought a spray bottle for a $1 at Big Lots! and mixed 3/4 cup vinegar with 1/4 cup water last night. This morning, when I went out to my car, I started the defrosters and then got out and sprayed the windshield, rear window and side windows. By the time I had gotten back in my car, the rear window was clear! I had to run my wipers a few times to get my windshield clear but this process was much faster than me just sitting in the cold car waiting for the defroster to kick on and clear the windshield. I will be keeping this spray bottle handy to use every morning!

6. Peg Board Jewelry Board – This was a very easy project and I was able to complete it in a weekend! The hardest part was putting the hardware through the pegs, the rest was a piece of cake. I chose yellow since it’s my favorite color and bought the hardware and spray paint from Sears Hardware. It was relatively inexpensive too and I love how it turned out. Image

7. Our Alphabet – For our 1 year anniversary back in February, I made my boyfriend a book of “Our Alphabet” and filled it with things that pertained to our relationship. It was cute, easy and best of all, very personal. For example, J – you fell in love with a Jersey girl; A – Adworks, where we first met; M – “It’s a-me, Mario!” (since we enjoy playing Mario Kart / Mario Party together). He loved it and I really had fun thinking of 26 different ways to describe us.

I really love Pinterest and I plan on making a lot more things come this holiday season. Hopefully they turn out OK so I can post them.

Follow me on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jks724/