Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vitamin D...are you deficient?

After an annual checkup, my doctor called to tell me I'm Vitamin D deficient. So she prescribed very large doses for 8 weeks, then large doses for 8 more.

Why do we need Vitamin D? I'm not a doctor, nor have I played one on TV (yet?), but wanted to find out before I took the prescription. I knew one reason had to do with staving off osteoporosis, but didn't know that Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. Or that Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) has been linked to all kinds of ailments, from heart disease to certain kinds of cancer (including breast cancer).

How much is enough? National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommendations can be found here.

Drink a lot of milk and eating dairy products hasn't helped. And my doctor says the best source of Vitamin D is the sun. As many of us do these days to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer, I try to stay out of the sun. Not only that, when I am outside (like last November on vacation in very sunny Puerto Rico) I use sunscreen. Which, according to Wikipedia, inhibits 95% of skin production of Vitamin D.

I read that VDD is hard to detect without a test. The variety of annoying symptoms, including fatigue, difficulties sleeping and symptoms of depression can also be symptoms of many other things...even stress.

Apparently many Americans are Vitaman D deficient. Maybe you should get tested, too.

Learn more about Vitamin D:

Women to Women


Scientific American

University of Michigan Health System

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Are You Prepared?

How much preparation is enough? If you're giving a presentation for work, going on an audition, or sending out a manuscript to an editor or far are you willing to go to produce your best, and how do you know when you're ready? When you run out of time? Ha.

Tuesday afternoon around 2:30, I got a call from a talent agent telling me I'd been selected to audition for a SAG movie. A lead role. The audition was Wednesday at 4:30, and she'd be emailing me the sides (ie, lines to learn). I was a bit surprised when not one, not two, but three scenes appeared in my mailbox. And two of them required crying.

Before reading the script, I Yahoo!ed the casting director, Matthew Lessall, and found a 2/14 blog entry () about his adventures casting this film. He focused on preparation, because apparently some actors had complained about how hard the material was and that they didn't enough time to prepare, though he'd booked them for the audition LAST WEEK. (Recall that I only have around 24 hours.)

His advice: "PRACTICE! When you think you have practiced enough, DO IT AGAIN!"

So that is what I decided to do. Fortunately I didn't have major plans Tuesday evening. Would I have gone so far as to, say, cancel dinner with a friend? Try to find someone to use theatre tickets? Miss a chorus rehearsal or class? Hmmm.

Next I researched the director and the film, and found a cool "first look" on the director's Web site. (What did we do before the Internet?) I read through the scenes, decided what a late 40s Orthodox wife with 3 kids might wear and what to do with my hair. I reviewed and reviewed my lines, out loud and silently. The next day, I brought them with me and rehearsed on the bus and while waiting for an appointment. I wasn't fully memorized, but could glance at a line then say it.

How did the audition go? Had I prepared enough?

When my turn came, Matt asked if I'd had time to look over the script. I knew better than to say, "Well, I just got it yesterday afternoon." So I told him I'd read his blog and quoted his preparation advice, which I'd followed. He said that was more than most. Then we had a nice chat about blogging and health insurance. Sounds like a good start.

He asked if I had any questions. I wanted to know what her job was, because one of the scenes is outside her place of work. He said that was a good question, but he didn't know the answer.

I did the first scene, with him reading the other parts. It's a little nervewracking to have the casting director as your reading partner, because you need to make eye contact...and while you're trying to remember the lines, separate the fact that he's the one who can hire you from the need to see the other people in the sence, find the emotion and be in the moment.

He said my performance was flat (Ouch. Is that what it feels like not to go through to Hollywood on American Idol?), but then gave me some direction on how to do better. According to his blog, that's a good thing. And I know some auditioners give notes just to see if you can take direction.

I did the scene again, and he seemed happier. We moved on to the second scene. He said that was good, but didn't ask me to do the third. Which, of course, I'd also rehearsed...

When I gave work presentations, I always had more information to impart than fit into my alotted time. The questions attendees asked were almost always easier than I'd anticipated. I prefer to be as prepared as I can be, so the time and effort I've invested will pay off.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Little Help, Please?

Songs have been written about the need for and benefits of artists including The Beatles and Bette Midler (who didn't get teary-eyed listening to The Wind Beneath my Wings?).

Yet there are those unable to realize when they need help. Some who realize the need are unwilling to ask. Others are unwilling to accept help, because they think doing so makes them seem weak. They don't want to sacrifice any of their independence or privacy and/or feel guilty, that they will be indebted to the helper.

Many offer help, and many are happy to give it when asked. Others do so grudgingly, perhaps resentful of the time and effort needed, or they attach strings.

Help can come in many forms...from encouraging words to assistance with a specific project to giving of your time, and in this economy, money or even food.

Writers are one group that thrives on help. Many authors have critique partners, without whom they say they'd never have finished or sold some or all of their books. This writer would not have kept going for so long after so many rejections without the ongoing encouragement and support of many friends, from one who recommended my latest manuscript to her agent to those I've made through Romance Writers of America.

But help goes both ways. I'm helping a friend under deadline by line editing so she can produce new pages. I've helped another stay on task, which also helped me, because it's easier to stay focused when you're writing with someone.

How can you be a more gracious giver or reciever? What's the best way to thank someone who helps you, and the best way to accept thanks? I'd guess any way that leaves both parties satisfied.

For more information on the subject of help: Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help

How to accept help:

Great Entrepreneurial Minds Article focuses on arthritis but issues are relevant.

How to thank someone: Wikihow

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Do you Freecycle™? It's not a new exercise class, or a way to ride a bike. It's a free way to make sure that stuff you don't want or need anymore goes to a good home instead of ending up in a landfill. The saying, "Someone's trash is someone else's treasure," proves true. And you're helping the environment.

You can also use Freecycle to acquire things you want but don't want to pay for or, in this economy, can't afford.

Pros: The recipient picks the item up. You can make someone's day...recipients have been so happy to get what I've Freecyled. You can Freecycle things you can't a can of paint or even half a bottle of shampoo. I've Freecycled a shopping bag (5 lbs) of unused computer, phone and TV/VCR cords and cables, which was better and certainly easier than trying to find a place to recycle them. Freecycling can be fast...sometimes you offer an item, promise it within minutes and have it taken the same day. It's a great way to regift...I was given a laptop bag that was too big and heavy for me, but the recipient was thrilled to have it for her son.

Cons: You will receive a lot of emails, even if you go on digest. A surprising number of people will want what you don't, and sometimes it's hard to choose who to give the item to. (I usually go with the first responder so I don't have to decide between heartfelt explanations.) Sometimes you'll make pickup arrangements, and the person doesn't show up or call to say why...taking up your time. There may be items you take the time to offer that no one wants: I offered but still have a Radio Shack phone battery I neglected to return it in time that was supposed to fit my phone but didn't.

Other: You'll need to carefully read the etiquette and posting files and follow all the rules. You're supposed to offer more things than you want.

You may have items you'd rather donate, for tax benefits. But if you have things you no longer need, consider joining your local Freecycle group.