Someone is Watching from Heaven

February 27, 2011

So something pretty impressive happened yesterday on the campus of UCLA (apologies to Dr V. who is such a diehard Trojan). In 1965 Pauley Pavilion opened up, a place the Bruin Basketball team could call home. Of greater note is that their coach was one John Wooden, widely regarded as one of the finest teachers of all time and one of the best coaches to have ever graced this earth. Coach Wooden passed away last June at the age of 99. You should try and read some of his books, or books written about him, to see what a great teacher and leader of men he was. I am reading his latest book on his Pyramid of Success for the second time now.

After 46 years of Bruin Basketball it is time for Pauley Pavilion to have a face lift and yesterday was the last home game for the next 18 months. Arizona, which was ranked 10th in the country was in for a visit and UCLA played one of its finest games of the year, so good that the scrubs were playing the last few minutes. With 25 seconds left a UCLA player shot an air ball which was caught by one Tyler Trapani. In three years as a walk on player at UCLA he had never scored a point, and in fact he had only taken 2 shots. He put in the ball for the last 2 points to be scored at Pauley before renovations started. Tyler is the great grandson of one John Wooden and when I saw the story it just brought a tear to my eye. And for the first time ever Tyler, someone who never gets into the game, was being part of the post game interview. And Ben Howland, the UCLA coach openly cried about it in the locker room. As Bill Plaschke of the LA Times wrote “IT WAS AN ALLEY-OOP FROM HEAVEN”

Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success does not have a single brick that says personal responsibility, but after reading the book I think it would be safe to say that he was all about it.
Last week I wrote that the best I can do is take responsibility for all I think, say and do. For the last year I have been trying to live a healthier life style, eating better, exercising more regularly and the like. And my concept of Conscious Prevention does work. I have lost weight, I have more energy than ever and I had great results in my lab work at my last physical. I went on a website and put in the numbers from my physical and it said even though I am almost 53 years old, my tests and workout regimen put my biological age at 44.2

But let me share a little story for this past week. Someone came into the office that had a cold two weeks prior and was sick again with a cold. When asked why she got sick again her answer was that it was the weather. I was able to have a nice talk with her and asked her why everyone else was not sick since we were all living in the same weather. I educated her to that there was something about her body that was allowing her to get sick. Maybe she was not sleeping enough (2 small kids at home) or maybe she just wasn’t taking as good of care of herself that she should. But somehow her immune system was low and that was all it took for her to get sick again.

I truly believe that with proper eating, exercise, hygiene etc we can affect our health in a way that makes our immune system stronger. That prevents us from getting as sick as, or as often as, others who do not take personal responsibility. Prevention is so much better than the cure.

After the Superbowl, then Valentine’s Day, followed by the President’s day we end this weekend with The Oscars. Enjoy


February 20, 2011

OK, I like the way the last few weeks have been lining up. First we got the Superbowl and had a great group of friends at the house for my 30th consecutive party. Then we get Valentine’s Day where my boys and I took my wife out for lunch on Sunday (beat the crowds) and had a really great time. And now I get a three day weekend with President’s cool.

So it made me remember what days off were like when I was a kid in school. Back in those days we got off both Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthday off, there were a week apart in my memory serves me. Flash forward to today and it’s still days off neutral, there is only President’s day but there is also now Martin Luther King Day. Never in my day but there are all these other days off that my son gets at the high school (none for Josh at college). There are these minimum days, staff development days and others I can’t even remember. So here is what’s up with our family this holiday weekend.

Even with the rain Joey got in his usual Saturday football workout over at school. This is extra over what is done through the athletic department and Joey is committed to it..Way to go, Joe. And tonight (Sunday) we are going to the Townhouse, in Inglewood for Andrew Gouche’s Sunday Night Jam. The music is the best R&B jam around and the best part is when one Josh Engel gets up to play his song. It’s been a while since we have seen him play, we are very excited. If you read this in time, join us, all the info is on the internet.

And of course what is a holiday weekend without a little figure skating going on in our house. It’s true, I know more about figure skating than any man should, but it is a staple of my wife’s life and today she is off judging a test session for up and coming skaters from the Southern California area.

BUT LET’S GET BACK TO PRESIDENT’S DAY. While as a kid it was all about Washington and Lincoln, I want to make a point of something President Kennedy said in his inaugural address and you have heard it many times.

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”

And on this President’s Day weekend I would like to tell you my personal thoughts on what I can do for the country. At this point in my life the best I can do for my country is to take personal responsibility for all of my thoughts, actions and words. It’s really simple if you ask me. Live right and give back to my local community. That’s all I can individually do.

Simple to say but not always simple to do. Trust me, I have plenty of failures, but I don’t let them break me down for long. There is so much to be said about living right; I am far from an expert on it. But I do know that if my ultimate goal is to be happy and a contributing part of society my body will give me plenty of physical and emotional feedback to let me know I am doing the right thing.

This is not something I came to overnight, nor is it something I have even mastered myself. I just try to build on good habits every day and try to figure out when I fail as to what caused me to have a poor outcome. Now let me put a professional take on this.

As a dentist it frustrates me that everybody does not brush or floss their teeth as often as they should. Dental disease is totally preventable. Why does anyone want to pay money to have their teeth worked on, their gums scrapped or any of the other bad images that dentistry has managed to create over the years? It’s all preventable and all it takes is some personal responsibility. And the great thing is the better you take care of your mouth, the healthier your body will be and less medical issues (meaning less monies needed etc) you might have.

OK, off my soap box about conscious prevention and on to the president day weekend with the family. Till next time..stay healthy.

It’s a Weekend for the Ladies

February 14, 2011

How ironic is it that the weekend after the Superbowl includes Valentine’s Day preparations. The Superbowl, is the onetime where men ask to be left alone (OK at my house the women were pretty much into the game as well). Fast forward one week and it is Valentine’s Day and us men get to spend all this time about the ladies that we love.

I confess, I have been married to Janis for almost 22 years and all I can imagine in life is being with her for at least another 44 years (that puts me at 96 and by then I am sure she will have had enough of me). You can’t write a book about us, I have made more than my fair share of mistakes….but for whatever reason she has, Janis has stuck with me through thick and thin. I have to thank God, keep wishing on my lucky star or just keep working on myself so that I can continue to grow in my relationship with Janis. I have to keep letting her know that she is the most important person in my life. And the good news is that I don’t need Valentine’s Day to let her know it, I say I have 365 days a year to do that. So, in that respect (and my apologies to Hallmark) everyday has to be Valentine’s Day in my house. Instead of dealing with the masses of people out there on Monday night we are going to have a Valentine’s day lunch with the boys on Sunday just to beat the crowds (and school schedules)

Back to the Superbowl…some game wasn’t it. I think that all 11 people that were at my house were rooting for the Green Bay Packers (sorry Maria…my die hard Pittsburg fan/friend). I was rooting for Aaron Rodgers, wanting to see a Cal quarterback win the Superbowl. It was a fun game to watch, and the group of friends at my house was the best. But like I wrote last week, what’s next? Come on Celtics and the Heat, Lakers verses Orlando. I miss my football already.

I have been given a great opportunity to work on my conscious prevention that really gives me the energy to go and go. I have been a member of the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce for about a year now. The Hollywood/Wilshire YMCA is also a member and their representative to the Chamber, Kitty Gordillo, asked me if I would lend some professional support for a few programs that they have at the YMCA. I went there for a visit this week and I was blown away by all the activities that they provide in their facility. What a great place for a family to be able to access so many different programs, from tutoring for kids to mommy and me classes to aerobics and so much more. I described the Y to Kitty as the perfect mouse trap…something for everyone.

There are two areas that I am going to get to work with. First, they have an annual health faire that I will attend and try to teach a little to anyone who wants to learn about dental health and proper eating habits to prevent cavities. The Hollywood Y also has a program which includes a shelter for young women, some with kids. I will be setting up a program where I can go in and educate these ladies to what it takes to keep a healthy mouth, the values and cost savings of prevention and of course excellent oral hygiene. This is an opportunity for me to give back to my community, to make a difference. I really look forward to this and I really hope I can make a small difference in these ladies lives.

Let me close on this note and wish all of you and your loved ones a special healthy wish for this Valentine’s Day. Indulge, but don’t over do it.

It’s the Super Bowl Weekend

February 5, 2011

The bitter sweet truth about Super Bowl Sunday. What a great game this year with the Steelers and the Packers. It certainly pencils out like a thriller and then….it’s all over until next year. I admit it; there is something about football on TV that is so cool and captivating, even if the game is a blow out. And the absolute truth is there is not anything I would prefer to watch more while exercising than football. It just makes the time pass so quickly….

So on a very personal note this Super Bowl Party I am having marks the 30th in a row for me. It all started my last year of dental school in San Francisco while I was in dental school, starting with what we all remember as the catch. Dwight Clark caught the ball I the back of the end zone from Joe Montana and sent the 49er’s to the SuperBowl and started their incredible dominance of the football scene.

Over the years I have had many different types of partied, including one at the beach (49er’s blew out Denver and everyone stayed on the beach for the second half) to a ski big Bear party (courtesy of Dana Hawthorne and his parent’s cabin) to the time I rented two 30 foot motor homes and we actually tailgated at the RoseBowl in Pasadena for 2 full days (once again Denver got beat up by Washington Redskins). We even had bicycles so we could ride around the VIP areas, even if we could not get in. I have never been around anything so rich in my life, what an experience that was.

And for this year’s Super Bowl there will be no tailgating at all. All the areas are for the corporate parties. Hope they have some good ones because the entire week before the Super Bowl the parties and events were almost non-existent as Dallas got a nasty little visit from Mother Nature.

So as I finish my homage to the Super Bowl I want to thank all of my friends who have watched the game with me over the years, from San Francisco, to my apartment in Los Angeles, to the condo on the Westside, all the away parties and now at my house in Valencia. And a special shout out to one Jaime Zuniga (who is Oscar to my Felix in the odd couple). Jaime has been to 27 straight parties (including after the earthquake that shut down the freeway) and this one makes 28.

Not to get lost in all of this is the concept of consistency. This is an important part of our life. I have read many times that it takes 21 days to create habit. What habits do you have that improve your health, make your day go smoother or enrich the lives of those around you?

And the great thing about these habits should be, if you forget once it’s no big deal, you just pick it up and get back on the saddle. As a dentist I cannot tell you how many times patients have told me they were brushing and flossing really well after their last hygiene appointment, but they went a few days without and just stopped doing it on any type of regular basis. Hey, last I checked we are all human and we are not perfect (I know I am far from it) so just get back to it. This goes for any type of commitments you have made in any aspect of your life. Please, it is too easy to quit, but if the commitment is something that is worthwhile (like brushing and flossing your teeth) just bounce back and do it.

Now take this round circle and back to the Super Bowl. At this point the teams know each other pretty well. They have been practicing all season long and everyone has each other’s game film. Who is going to win the game…whoever does what they have practiced better. Who do I want to win…it doesn’t matter because someone from the University of Southern California with really long hair is going to win. And I do root for the home town boys….