Stay Well - - Do Good
why am I having so much trouble finding the gel swabs. They are the only thing my wife can use.

Jonathan,

The Allergy Gel Swabs were discontinued during 2012 for production reasons.  We still have Zicam Allergy Relief gel nasal spray which has the same formula as the swabs but in a nasal spray.  If you go to our website, zicam.com, you can print a $2 coupon good on any Zicam product.  I hope that helps and that your wife gets relief. 

April is the Cruelest Month

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

So begins T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland, a poem that’s on my mind every year at this time.  As a life long allergy sufferer and lover of light and all things Spring, I truly have a love-hate relationship with April.  I find it incredibly energizing to enjoy the rising sun in the East as I get ready for work and to leave the office and enjoy dinner before the sun sets.  The lengthening days fill me with optimism, and I start to take the dogs on long walks and make my mental “to do” list for the yard.  Maybe it’s the vitamin D boost, but this northern girl really craves the light!  What I don’t love is that a box of tissues becomes my constant companion every April as I’m reminded that my body doesn’t love the blooming trees and flowers and growing grasses as much as my mind does. 

I woke up this morning with a stuffy nose and sore throat and thought I had a Pre-Cold.   When the rapid fire sneezing started as I tried desperately to catch up on some work before sunrise, I realized that Spring had sprung.  April is, indeed, the cruelest month.   Time to reach for Zicam Allergy Relief Gel to calm my overly reactive nose and Zicam Extreme Congestion nasal gel for the occasional nasal stuffiness (important to use for no more than 2-3 days at a time). 

While my friend in Stowe, VT reports that the snow is still flying there and in New Jersey our days are still fighting to get above freezing, the daffodils and crocuses persist, and pollen counts climb.  I can only imagine how I would feel if I were in one of the “allergy capitals”, as described in a recent piece in the Huffington Post.  If you live in one of these cities, described as the worst cities for allergy sufferers in the U.S, I’d love to hear from you and learn how you cope.  (and I am sorry for your suffering).   If you’re getting relief from Zicam, I’d love to hear about it.  If you’ve found other solutions … please share as well!  Personally, I refuse to be taken down by some sneezing and discomfort.  The pay-off from the beauty of Spring is too much to miss, so if you we bump into each other between now and late June, please don’t mind the occasional sneeze!

Looking at the list of “allergy capitals”, I come back to my opening theme:  April is the cruelest month.  How is it fair that the most beautiful shows of spring color come with the highest suffering indices.  Well, I guess Spring allergy season is like a rosebush - - beautiful, but watch the thorns! 

No Rest for the Weary

Love for vacations is universal, right?  It’s like “mom and apple pie” isn’t it?  Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my family away from home and the never-ending to-do list on my whiteboard.  What I don’t understand is why I return nearly as stressed out and tired as when I left.  I try not to think about the cost of the vacation because any economist would tell me that, based on dollar value alone compared to rest received, I would be better off skipping vacations and staying at work.  I suppose this is evidence that the value of vacations can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

I have just returned from a theoretical vacation.  I’ve been out of the office for 2 weeks.  For 5 of those 10 business days, I was working (in exotic locations, albeit) while my kids enjoyed the pool and resort facilities.  The other 5 days, I was trying (really hard) to be engaged with the kids and trying to decompress.  In between the 2 weeks, we came home for 36 hours to do laundry and change up the mix of children traveling with me (each of the kids has a slightly different spring vacation schedule).  My husband also joined us for week 2. 

Setting dollars aside, the “cost” of my time out of the office adds up as follows:

-       Missed hike in Sedona in order to catch up on office work

-       Early morning email exchanges and phone calls with colleagues in a different time zone in order to accommodate family activities later in the day

-       Ninety minutes late to dinner at a friend’s house because of a conference call

-       Complete disruption of my healthy eating habits and exercise routine

-       Mounting pile of work for my return which will likely result in something close to an “all-nighter” immediately prior to my first day back in the office

-       Still the one to clean dishes, make beds, and pick up clothing and towels off the floor

Thinking through the costs, most rational people would choose to stay home.  I get anxious just thinking about it.  So, I take a moment to think about the benefits before I decide if the value of vacation done my way is really worth it.

The “plus side” of my vacation ledger includes the following entries:

-       Two weeks of sharing every meal, every evening and even sleeping quarters with my teenagers with little or no intervention from their peers (if you don’t count Snapchat and Facebook)

-       Inside jokes created with the kids that will be part of our shared language for years to come.  Ask Daly about “the game” (actually, don’t ask her; it’s our thing).

-       Playing golf with Philip (15) with the Gulf of Mexico as our right rough (the lost ball count is our business, thank you)

-       Choosing to take the middle seat in row 29 for a 5 hour flight so I could sit between the girls and be next to both of them at once

-       Introducing the kids to many work and industry colleagues (read:  proud mama showing them off) and listening to them engage in intelligent conversation like the young adults they’re becoming

-       Several naps on a poolside chaise which resulted in a bit of color (don’t tell my dermatologist) and an appearance of better health

-       Awestruck moments together as we first spied the beauty of Sedona and the dolphins jumping in the waves in Captiva.

-       Small but high impact conversations as the kids each revealed a bit about their school and social lives

-       Standing next to Daly as she learned of college acceptance decisions and helping her to ease anxiety over those yet to come

-       Watching both girls leave for a day trip dressed in my clothing!  I was glad to share because I was over the moon that they would consider wearing anything that I own

-       Hiking the hills of Sedona and enjoying it 3 times as much because of Caroline and Daly’s appreciation of the natural beauty (and their ability to demonstrate what they’d learned in science class)

-       Learning new slang while having dinner in a dive with Caroline and Philip (and no I won’t repeat what I learned)

-       Sharing a moment of excitement when we thought our Pink Jeep Tour companion was the lead singer in Barenaked Ladies (turned out not to be true, but the speculation was fun)

-       Watching Daly delight in her celeb spotting on our return flight from AZ (Quest Love)

Given this cost/benefit analysis, I think the economists would side with me.  The time out of the office was well worth it.  As Philip (15) says, “rest is for the feeble”.  Well, I’m not sure I’d agree with that, but it’s becoming my mantra.  It’s not the work-life balance for everyone, but it works for me.  These years with the kids are fleeting, and I’ll have plenty of time for naps in the years to come.  Right now, I am grateful that we’re able to take these trips and for every exhausting vacation minute I can squeeze out of them. 

Just How Does She Do It?

I know each and every one of you has had someone ask this about you (and for our male readers, just switch out the pronoun).  When someone asks it of me, he (or she) usually shakes his head and says “yikes”.  Sometimes there’s admiration; often it seems that the question is dripping in judgment.  My unscientific survey suggests that the admiration most often comes from men and the judgment most often comes from women.  Many assume that there is a small army helping me behind the scenes but they soon learn that there are only large vats of coffee in my supporting cast (and very conscious, energy boosting eating and exercising habits).  No, this is not a blog post to say that my organizational skills are superior, my stamina superhuman or anything even approaching that.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  I am writing to yell out to the world: Just stop!  Stop what?  Let’s stop looking on one another with judgment and instead reach out to one another with a helping hand.  At Zicam, our social community usually does a great job of this.  Our Facebook friends and twitter community share their cold management tips and Zicam success stories and spread the word about treating a Pre-Cold (tm).  So let’s take that more broadly and help each other across the board.

The past 20 years of my life have been jam-packed, exhausting, exhilarating, challenging, frustrating, energizing, stressful, and unbelievably happy.  Depending on where you sit, you’ll be tempted to pull an adjective out of that list and say, “I knew it.  Look at what her work/life balance choices have caused”.   It’d be interesting to sort through your adjective choices (read judgments) and see what they tell us.  Yes, us. Not me.  While I have always been overly concerned with what others think of me (a people-pleaser to a fault), I know that I have made the choices in my life that are right for my family so I really don’t care what your choice of adjectives in the above example tell me.  I am most interested in how they line up as a group and what that tells us about some of the gender specific movements in the press these days.  

I offer two few examples:  One Billion Rising and Lean In.  While you could say that they are both about women and that’s where the similarity ends,  I think they are both about men and women and our respect for and relationships to one another.  One Billion Rising is a global movement to end violence against women.  (How ironic that the globally coordinated movement to raise awareness of the organization and its mission happened on the same day that Oscar Pistorius killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp).   Lean In encourages each of us to “lean in” and live up to our full potential.  I am completely aligned with the philosophy of “Lean In” and know that this has been my own, natural way of living my life since I was a little girl and didn’t even stop to wonder if I would be included in the boys’ soccer game at recess.  I was included because I was at least as good at soccer as they were.  Looking back, I realize that I didn’t even question whether or not I could or should play.  I wanted to play, so I did.  And I’ve lived that way my entire life.  I struggle with the need for an official movement like “Lean In” because if my own hard-wired approach to life, but I also accept that many have not had the opportunities I’ve had nor have the inborn gumption I have (five siblings might have something to do with the gumption thing).  I did joke with colleagues yesterday that if I “leaned in” anymore, I might fall over!

Check out both OneBillionRising.org and LeanIn.org and then reflect on how you might live out the missions of both organizations.  We, men and women alike, will never reach our collective potential if we don’t take a step back, quit judging, accept more, and reach out a helping hand.  Lean In may encourage you to look inward and fulfill your personal potential while  One Billion Rising (or any one of the thousands of similar organizations) encourages us to look outward and seek our full potential through service to others.  I think it’s this combination of inward and outward potential that will really enable us, “proactive avoiders” and others, to make meaningful contributions to ourselves, our families and our worlds.  But don’t feel a burden to do any of this a certain way or in a certain amount.  Just be and do the best you can and allow others to do the same.  And please, let’s quit judging whether “she” does too much, too little, loves too much or too little, eats too much or too little, etc.  If we won’t show kindness to one another as a community, why should we expect others to do that for us? (I also encourage you to follow momastery.com, a blog and community all about supporting and living without judgment).

I have chosen a path that works for me.  I am truly happy to share the details of that path, trials and tribulations along with moments of unspeakable joy.  I am the very fortunate mother of four wonderful children, young adults really, and I run a fantastic organization.  I am likely where I am due to tremendous luck.  However, I have made many conscious choices, and I have worked very hard.  I will not foist my choices on anyone else, but if you are interested in learning more about my path, contact me and I will share.  I still hang onto the phrase we all learned in nursery school:  Sharing is caring.  That’s my philosophy, however exhausted it might make me.  I think it makes each of us better.  So, if you want tips for managing through the cold season or have any other questions, let me know.  Until then, look inward for your potential and then share that potential with the world.  Take that light out from underneath the bushel and let it shine!

Love a Dog … Beat the Cold Monster?

OK, so having a dog won’t keep you from getting a cold or help shorten the cold or improve your symptoms.  However, studies show again and again that pet owners, particularly dog owners, are healthier than the general population.  We’re also happier, as long as the dog hasn’t just chewed up the couch.  Enter exhibits A and B, otherwise known as Hennie and Major.

image

Today is National Walking Your Dog day, and in recognition of this and as a tribute to dog owners everywhere, I offer a few reasons to love dogs.

1.     Stress reduction.  No matter how hard the world kicks you during the day, your dog lavishes unconditional love on you the minute you walk in the door.  It’s nearly impossible for me to stay in a bad mood when Hennie and Major act as if I’ve been gone for a month when I walk through the door at the end of a long day.  They only want to be with me and pass no judgment and make no demands (other than dinner).  There are also studies showing that pet-owning heart patients live longer, and we’ve all heard about programs which bring dogs in to visit the elderly.

2.     Allergies.   The Cincinnati Childhood Allergy & Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), found that dog ownership among children with dog allergies may reduce the risk of developing eczema by age 4 years.  Or, you can choose a hypo-allergenic breed or mix if allergies remain a concern.  My sister and her family share their lives with a ridiculously happy, adorable Labradoodle despite her son’s allergies.  And then there is, of course, the First Dog, Beau the Portugese Water Dog.

3.     Guy/Girl Magnet. If you are in the market and so inclined, there’s no disputing the attractive power of cute dogs.  It seems that cute, nice dogs make their owners seem cuter and nicer.

4.     Happy Heaters.  This one is my personal favorite.  There were a few nights during Superstorm Sandy when I was the only one at home and we had been without heat and power for over a week.  When the nighttime temperatures dropped down into the ‘teens, Hennie and Major cuddled in tight and kept me warm all night long (even though I couldn’t move).

So in recognition of this day and in honor of your dog(s), pull out the leash, lace up your walking shoes and get going.  Your dogs, your mood and your health will thank you.  Just don’t forget to clean up after Fido!

I purchased for the first time the Intense sinus relief, I have used many remedies including neti pot, I have never had such relief from sinus pressure thank you. Question though, it says that you can only use for 3 days. I feel that further information is needed, if my symptoms presist can I wait a week and use this product again or do I need to wait a month, or???

I’m so glad you are a user (and a fan) of Zicam Intense Sinus Relief, and I’m really glad you reached out to ask this important question.  The active ingredient in Zicam Intense Sinus Relief and Zicam Extreme Congestion is Oxymetazoline HCl.  The use of this product beyond 3 days can result in what is known as a rebound effect.  With the rebound effect, the nasal congestion may worsen with repeated use, requiring more frequent dosing to achieve the same level of relief.  Symptoms that do not resolve within 3 days may be the result of a  more serious condition which requires medical evaluation.  If you have chronic or recurring congestion, please discuss this with your healthcare provider as they may be able to determine the exact cause of your congestion and provide you with a specific treatment plan.

Again, thanks for your question and your interest in this brand

The Dark Side of Milk Chocolates, or Get Your Own Box!

As a card carrying chocolate lover, the red-letter days on my calendar are Halloween, Christmas (Santa decorates with candy in our house), Easter and, of course, Valentine’s Day.  On February 14 in our house, everyone gets his or her own (large) heart-shaped box of Russell Stover chocolates and then the games begin.   We could probably turn the family dynamics into some sort of economics case study.  There is a clearly defined supply and less defined demand.  Each of the players has a preference for different types and the pricing dynamics among us vary somewhat.  My older son really couldn’t care about his chocolates nor does my husband; and therefore, they have low trading prices, whereas one of the girls values the dark chocolate caramels highly and the other would sell her soul for a ting-a-ling (milk chocolate w/ coconut throughout).  And so, our kitchen counter becomes an open bazaar for a week or so and about as clean.  Despite my best efforts to keep things clean and tidy, we trade germs along with our chocolates.  The kids are certainly old enough to know proper food etiquette but it seems that the urge to poke the bottom of a chocolate to determine its inner value is overwhelming.  To them, the risk that they would be stuck with a maple walnut filling is more serious than the risk that they might catch any virus hiding inside a sibling. 

If the germs that the kids trade while haggling over their Valentine’s chocolates bazaar were the only germs they picked up, I wouldn’t really worry.  They’re all pretty healthy and have been told often enough to make sure that they reach for Zicam at the first sign of a pre-cold.  Because of my years in the cold medicine business, they could each probably recite the ingredient listing of any cough/cold medicine should their symptoms advance that far, and they always ask me.  Think, though, about how many things you or your children reach for in a given day that were probably pawed by someone else … the pen at the bank counter or the supermarket check-out, a grocery cart, door knobs, gas pump handles, change from the coffee shop.  Live in paranoia?  Absolutely not.  Get adequate sleep.  Eat sensibly.  And wash your hands before you enter the Valentine’s Chocolate Bazaar!

sdg86:

One Billion Rising
End Violence Against Women

Stand up, dance, share, pass along the videos.

sdg86:

One Billion Rising

End Violence Against Women

Stand up, dance, share, pass along the videos.

Nor’Easter - - Here We Go Again

I’ve mentioned before that our nickname for Zicam devotees is “proactive avoider”.  I am the poster child for the proactive avoider when it comes to my health.  I eat well, exercise regularly, nearly sleep enough (according to my own 6 hours/ night definition) and am always prepared for the pre-cold with Zicam in my purse.  In all other aspects of life, I don’t seem to avoid anything, proactively or otherwise.  So, with this “take it all on” approach to life, I find myself sitting at my kitchen table, mindlessly eating dry cereal, worrying about my daughter.  Here’s the backstory. 

She has been accepted in the early round to a wonderful college in Chicago, and she has been bound and determined to visit it during her long weekend break from school this month.  Her dad and I suggested she wait until April because the chances of weather delays when flying between New York and Chicago in February are very high.  She insisted it would be fine and arranged to coordinate her trip with that of her friend and her friend’s mother.  So, drawing comfort from the presence of the other parent, I booked her flight.  Yesterday morning, two bumps in the road materialized.  Her friend’s plans had changed so my daughter would be taking the trip on her own (and not have a place to stay with the friend’s friend on Friday night) and question marks appeared on the weather forecast for Friday.  In true defiance of the “proactive avoider” moniker, I booked my daughter on a flight home on Friday afternoon and figured out ground transportation since she wouldn’t have the other mom in Chicago to drive her.  The forecast at that point suggested that we might get more rain than snow, so my head went back into the sand, and I carried on.  As we got in the car at 3:30 a.m. this morning to drive to LaGuardia for a 6 a.m. flight (from our home in suburban NJ), it became clear that the bit of rain had changed into a massive nor’easter and the worst storm of the season (bad weather has become a recurring theme).  Cautious, planning, proactive avoider was sending her teenage daughter on a trip with a scheduled return in the middle of a 24-hour long storm.  What happened to the “avoider” part?  Does it only apply to my health?  Will worry alone guide her through this trip?  Did I really need something else to stress over today and tomorrow? 

Time to go back to my Zicam persona.  Why are we all Zicam zealots?  Because our lives are too busy to be sick.  We all have daughters and sons, nieces and nephews, dogs and cats to worry about.  We all have days, weeks, months when the “to do” list is too long or Mother Nature is controlling our destiny rather than our planning.  But, we also know how to deal with it.  As soon as I arrived home from the airport this morning, I booked a hotel room for my daughter in Chicago.  She may not need it and I may get stuck with the bill, but at least we both can carry on for the next 36 hours breathing easier because she won’t be left to sleep in a chair in O’Hare airport.  I promised her that everything would work out and that she should focus only on enjoying her visit (and not misplacing her wallet or passport).  That’s the promise I make to each of my kids everyday.  I don’t eliminate obstacles from their paths but I show them how to plan and how to work around them.  And if the obstacles remain too large or too stubborn, we decide that we’re on an adventure and try to see the cosmic humor involved.  With my daughter, my bit of planning has avoided a slumber party at O’Hare.  So maybe my “proactive avoider” tendencies aren’t as dormant as I’d thought and maybe we both came away with the lesson that cool heads, planning and proactively avoiding can work all sorts of wonders.  Now, I can worry about my snowy drive to the airport to fetch her J

Hi cannot seem to find zicam gel swabs. Have they been discontinued?

Thanks for asking! Yes, the Cold Remedy nasal gel swabs were discontinued a little over 3 years ago, and we stopped selling the allergy relief nasal gel swabs in 2012.  For Zicam Cold Remedy, we have many varieties of Rapidmelts, Oral Mist spray, lozenges and chewables.  Hopefully, one of them will be the right choice for you.  Thanks again.

So I was wondering what ever happen to the Liquid version of Zicam, especially the night time version. That stuff worked like magic and thought I see lots of links about the issues with the nasal spray and why there was a voluntary recall, I don't see anything saying there were issues with the liquid version and that was my favorite. Also, will it be coming back to the market in liquid form any time soon? Thanks for your time!

I think you’re referring to some of the symptom-relieving products we had a few years ago.  Those were discontinued but not for any safety reasons.  I was not affiliated with the company at the time, but they were discontinued for business reasons.  We don’t have any plans currently to bring them back.  However, if you have a cough, we introduced Zicam Naturals Cough Suppressant this year which relieves coughs with a homeopathic ingredient, mentha piperita, rather than dextromethorphan.  We also have two nasal decongestant sprays (Extreme Congestion and Intense Sinus) which relieve nasal congestion, and, of course, our Zicam Cold Remedy products which shorten the duration of a cold when taken at the first sign of a cold.  Thanks so much for your interest and for tolerating my long-winded answer!  Best, M’lou Arnett

Make Paranoia Work for You During Cold & Flu Season

No doubt about it, flu season is here!  And if the newsmongers are to be believed, it’s doozy of a strain.  While I’m not a fan of hyped up news, the number of people who have succumbed to this year’s flu is a bit frightening, so I take it seriously.   The Boston Globe reports that 18 people in Massachusetts have died this season because of the flu.  So, if you haven’t gotten a flu shot, do so NOW.  Even if you have, they are reporting that this year’s shot is 62% effective.  This is where a healthy dose of paranoia is useful.  Whether you’re trying to fight a cold or the flu, a little bit of care and a strong immune system will stand you in good stead (remember: Zicam Cold Remedy is for colds NOT flu). 

My paranoia has manifested itself as follows:

1.     Hit the sack:  I have been making a real effort to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night (challenging since my dogs and I all like a 4 a.m wake up call).  Whether a virus - - cold or flu - - comes calling or not, sleep deprivation is sure to make me feel lousy and unable to put up a fight.

2.     Watch what you touch:  I keep Clorox wipes in my desk so I can wipe my phone or computer keyboard when my waves of paranoia hit, but I realized that I’m typically the only one touching those devices anyhow.  The psychic value of wiping them down all the time may be good, but I realized I should cast a wider net in my hunt for rogue viruses.  I’ve been wearing gloves while riding public transportation or opening shopping mall doors, even if it’s not 25° outside. 

o   The corollary to “watch what you touch” is “don’t touch your face”.  It’s often not practical to avoid touching all handles, knobs, arm rests, etc.  So make a real habit out of keeping your hands away you’re your face. Germs enter your system through your nose, mouth and eyes so keep your hands at your sides! Plus, your pores will thank you for not adding oil and dirt to your face with your hands.

3.     Eat your veggies and get your vitamins.  This is a no-brainer … .  I won’t insult you with a lecture on the merits of good nutrition.  If you haven’t found the motivation to get your RDA, a scary cold and flu season should do it. 

4.     Exercise.  There’s research that shows that regular exercise can help to boost your immune system.  And, if you have a cold and not the flu, moderate exercise can help you to feel better.  This is a bit gross so bear with me … but I find that running gets mucus flowing and helps to clear things out in my nose and chest.

So I haven’t started wearing a mask or compulsively applying hand sanitizer, but I have paid a bit more attention to my daily routine.  If you think it’s just a cold, remember what to reach for at the first sign.  If it is the flu, unfortunately, Zicam won’t help at all, and you need to see a doctor.  Either way, taking steps to avoid germs and to keep your immune system strong are good things to do just because.  Stay healthy, stay safe and get those veggies.

How the Irish are Treating my Pre-Cold - - not with Leprechauns

I’ve been doing the old bob and weave with assorted colds throughout the holidays.  Each of the kids seemed to have some level of cold at some time or the other.  The girls hit the Zicam consistently and managed to keep the suffering minor and short lived.  My younger son’s cold had settled well into his chest by the time he came home and eventually turned into bronchitis.   He was well past the pre-cold stage and had to take cough medicine at regular intervals and then antibiotics.  Now that all the kids have returned to school, I’d figured that I was safe. 

I sat down this evening by myself to work and watch the BCS championship game (go Irish!) when I felt that somethin’ somethin’ again - - fatigue and left throat ache.  I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR A COLD!  I have 3 straight long travel and meeting filled days; I cannot have a pre-cold.  So how are the Irish helping?  Well, just as I’m starting to feel poorly, they go down 21-0 and seem to be leaning into the underdog thing.  I’m taking my cue - - I’m climbing into bed with Zicam and watching a rom-com on Netflix.  I will show this cold who’s boss and remove my jinxing ways!  As one of 6 children and the daughter of a Notre Dame alumnus, I do feel as though I’m abandoning ship, though I note the postings of my siblings on Facebook.  They can carry the flag this time.  I’ve decided that I might actually help the Irish out by not watching the Crimson Tide smush them. 

So, tonight, I’m leaning on the luck of the Irish and Zicam to deal with my pre-cold.  Maybe we’ll all have the right combination of luck and skill to get through this! I can read about the game tomorrow, well-rested and moving through my pre-cold.  Hoping for the best for all of us!  Go Irish!



2012: The Year in Review

UPDATEA friend posted her strategy for the New Year on Facebook.  She has built an Excel spreadsheet so of course I think it’s genius and I’m going to borrow the concept.  Her approach, with some edits, is as follows:
        “So I have a spreadsheet to monitor 2013 looking across all 12 months. I have restricted quotas for food and beverages that are making me sick … and I have columns for activities that I want to spend more time on.  My real goal is simply to keep track of 20 simple parameters, and to live with more intent and less illusion.”

I’ve built my own spreadsheet, and we’ll see how I do (sorry, it’s contents are for my eyes only).

ORIGINAL POST

I’ll just come out and say it:  good riddance 2012!  While we had many moments of brightness, the clouds seemed to win.  One of the regular bright spots was my work with the Zicam team (and no, I’m not trying to butter them up).  When I joined Zicam in February, I really believed that we had a diamond in the rough.  I couldn’t fathom how we had products that shortened colds but Zicam wasn’t sitting in the medicine cabinets of 110 million American households.  And while we’re still far from being the cold remedy version of a “chicken in every pot”, we have made great strides and had tons of fun in the process.  I had the good fortune of meeting so many Zicam devotees at BlogHer ’12 and staying in contact with a handful of bloggers.  I’ve been able to connect directly, on occasion, with others through Facebook and Twitter.  And I know we’ve reached a lot of you with our “Chase” TV commercial featuring the Cold Monster.  See how much fun it was to make by watching “How to Make a Monster of a Commercial”.

All that has been great, but the world outside the office walls has been a bit bumpier.  In my little world, I’ve had 4 friends diagnosed with cancer this year and 2 additional friends buried by cancer.  My daughter lost a teenage friend without explanation in the middle of the night.  We were smacked hard by Sandy and the Nor’Easter that followed 1 week later.  We were completely knocked into orbit by a mad man in Newtown, CT and his decision to slaughter innocents and simultaneously shatter the innocence of thousands more.  Sadly, this was only the most recent and most horrific gun-related tragedy in 2012.  My husband had a job change that landed him 1300 miles due west of our home, and I became a single mom of 4 except for every other weekend.  My list is not any longer than anyone else’s and far less gloomy than many.  Believe me, I count my blessings often, but 2012 was certainly a doozer of a year.  So what of it?  As my mother would say, “onward and upward”.  I know I can’t force a good year through sheer will power and hard work.  Yes, fortune favors the prepared mind, hard work pays, and all that.  But looking at the list above, I’m reminded that sometimes things are just difficult.  Rather than throwing in the towel, I work on concrete things and lean on hope for the rest.

Here are my concrete strategies for 2013 happiness, health and sanity (not necessarily in that order).  Feel free to copy and modify to suit you, but please let me know of any great tips!

1.     Planning on luck is not a plan.  My husband often says, “plan on luck”, and I respond, “plan on planning”.  Break big tasks and goals down into parts, make lists with short term objectives or deliverables (and yes, it is sometimes a nightmare to be one of my children!) and GET TO IT

2.     Set distinct goals for the biggies and only the biggies:  health, family, career, happiness.  Don’t lump them together in vague wishes unless you’re a “plan on luck” person.  “Get healthier” is not a goal.  Eat 1 more daily serving of veggies, get cholesterol below 200, walk 10,000 steps each day are goals.  My biggies are:

a.     Exercise every day, even if it’s only for 20 minutes and just stretching

b.     Plan out the days when kids are home from school so work, laundry, anything on Bravo, and X Box don’t consume time without our knowledge or permission

c.      Spend a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day to ponder the good that will happen or the good that has happened in that day.

d.     Require the kids to plan and prepare one dinner each week during the summer (when they’re home). It will improve they’re meal planning and cooking skills, make them cooperate more and improve their appreciation of what it takes to put a meal on the table

e.     Celebrate the small wins with the Zicam team, not just the big ones


3.     Reconnect with friends, new and old.   Send one handwritten note or card to a friend each week of the year.  The life/death challenges faced by so many in 2012 has made me realize that there won’t always be a “next time” for seeing someone.  Isn’t it better to let your friends and family members know how great they are while they’re able to appreciate it? It may feel strange at first, but I am sure that each card will be a pleasant surprise and put a smile on the face of someone dear to me.  Let’s tweet about this and see if we can make it a thing!  How about #weeklynote or #cardsforfriends?

So there you go.  I didn’t tell you what foods to eat to reduce belly fat or that regular handwashing will help to control the spread of germs.  You are busy and don’t have time being duped into reading about the latest superfood.  Plus, from those of you I met this year, you’re already all over those sorts of tips.  But, I will tell you to take your Zicam at the first sign of your Pre-Cold! My Christmas plans stayed on track because I started my Zicam regimen as soon as I felt that ache on the left side of my throat.  My son Philip refused to start Zicam and is still barking like a seal.  Yes, 15 year olds still know it all!

What Would You Do With 22 Million Days?

This just in:  The flu season has begun and appears to be strong.  Zicam is NOT for the flu so why do I care that news outlets have reported the latest flu data from the CDC?  It seems that the number of people reaching for cold medicines also rises along with the flu, so as CEO of Zicam, I pay a lot of attention to the influenza data. 

I’ve read that individuals in the U.S suffer 1 billion colds each year, in some estimates.  This sounds a bit far fetched to me; however, data from the National Center for Health Statistics from the CDC suggest that over 62 million cases of the common cold cause Americans to either seek medical attention or restrict their activities in some manner.  Further, the CDC estimates that common cold results in 22 million lost school days (and presumably lost work days for parents).  That’s a lot of lost time for our very busy world and all for something which most of us consider a simple fact of life.

I have a very bizarre relationship with the cold season.  As a mom, I prepare for back-to-school by stocking up on Zicam, cold symptom relieving products and tissues to prepare for illness from the germs brought home from school.  I intensely scrutinize any symptoms to determine if they are the first sign and a Pre-Cold(TM) or related to allergies because I just dusted the house or played with the dog.  I’ve come to learn that my Pre-Cold symptoms (ache on the left side of my throat and run-down feeling) are different than my nasal allergy symptoms, but I reach for the Zicam each time, just to be sure.  If the symptoms disappear after I remove the potential allergen, I know that I can relax again for a bit.  If not, I stick to my Zicam regimen until I’m better.   I am also pretty careful about diet, exercise and fluid intake to be sure that my immune system is getting as much help as possible (my kale-spinach-avocado-blueberry blender concoction each morning either keeps me strong or keeps those with germs at a distance!  The recipe will go to the first 10 responders!!).

Professionally however, I have a different view of the reported statistics on cough/cold incidence and on whether the latest flu vaccine has hit it on the mark.  While Zicam has no impact on the flu, a very serious illness, elevated flu incidence does seem to correlate to higher cold incidence.  To be extremely clear, I hope that each and every one of you gets through the year without suffering from a cold and without contributing to the lost school and work day statistics.  Who has time?  And it’s really a drag to have a cold.  The truth is, like clockwork, a significant portion of the population suffers from several colds each year.   The average adult gets 2-3 colds in a year.

So the office was abuzz this morning after many of us had heard a news clip about the flu season beginning in earnest in the Southeast.  Here’s the latest CDC map so you can evaluate your area.  You can also stay up-to-date on incidence by checking in on our Cold Monster Tracker.  Flu can be scary.  The complications can be very serious for many people, so get your flu shot if you haven’t and seek medical attention if you think you have the flu.   

And there are many other respiratory ailments that take suffering well beyond the common cold.  Jessica from our marketing team was striken with bronchitis last week.  At first I teased her about missing her Pre-Cold signs.  Once she told me that it was bronchitis and she was on her 4th day of antibiotics, I quit teasing.  Clearly, the Pre-Cold and Cold Monster are not a part of the bronchitis equation. Thankfully, she is on the mend and seems to be the only one in her house or our office afflicted.   

Stay healthy, stay alert and let us know when the Cold Monster comes calling (hope he won’t).