MasterChef Winner to Headline Cruise

    MasterChef winner Courtney Lapresi

    Courtney Lapresi closes this past season of MasterChef as a winner of not only the title, but a cook book deal and a $250,000 price prize.

    Recently, Fox cooking reality television show MasterChef’s fifth season came to a close, pronouncing another winner in the process.  Courtney Lapresi outlasted dozens of competitors and managed to tolerate the terrible tongue of Gordon Ramsey—the show’s infamous host—to win the title of the MasterChef.  With the title came a cook book deal and a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar price prize.

    In addition to this achievement and winnings, recently Lapresi’s notoriety from her victory on MasterChef has earned her a new position; she has been chosen to headline a cruise, according to an article recently completed by USA Today.  The position is on a culinary cruise on Holland America Line’s Westerdam; the cruise takes place from the fifteenth to the eleventh of November. One thousand eight hundred and forty eight passengers will call the cruise home for the duration of the journey, as it pursues an itinerary through the Eastern Caribbean.  Stops on the trip include Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s private island.

    Holland America Line's Westerdam

    The Westerdam of Holland America Cruise Line prepares for an Eastern Caribbean culinary cruise.

    The cruise is Holland America’s first MasterChef endeavor; Lapresi is the first headlining chef to run the culinary component of a cruise for Holland America to come from the reality show. For Lapresi’s contributions to the cruise, she will hold several panels.  One panel will focus on showing amateur chefs various tricks of the trade employed in professional kitchens.  Another panel focuses on tips for finishing touches to be placed on various dishes.  Specifically, the tips provided seek to help make dishes more appealing or delicious—small final flairs to add just a touch of something different, unique and tasty.  In addition to these panels, Lapresi will also be responsible for holding cooking sessions and mingling with guests at cocktail receptions.  Finally, Lapresi must take part in a mystery box challenge—an obstacle which seeks to replicate a challenge that Lapresi first faced in her time spent on MasterChef.


    Ceremony to Honor POW/MIA Service Members


    National Prisoners of War and Missing in Action soldiers’ were honored for 24 hours at a vigil in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

    On Friday, an event was held to commemorate National Prisoners of War and Missing in Action soldiers’ day.  The event was entitled the Twenty Seventh Annual Twenty Four Hour Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Vigil, according to an article recently completed by The Meadville Tribune.  For this year’s vigil, Nikki Mendicino, a POW/MIA advocate from near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, served as the keynote speaker.  Mendicino kept her comments brief, with perhaps the most noted part of her speech serving as her simply stating that she and the audience had come together to honor and remember all the heroes of war that did not make it back home.

    In attendance of the vigil, there were a series of a few noted guests.  Phil Davis, a veteran of the Vietnam War, introduced one of the most notable Prisoners of War attending the event—Harold Beerbower of Meadville.  The article offered Beerbower’s background, including how he found his way into the army and imprisonment in the opposing soldier’s camp.  Beerbower quit school and joined the army in 1951 to join the Korean War effort.  By April of that year, he served as a member of D company 7th Infantry Regiment, third Infantry Division.  However, on the twenty fifth of April 1951, he was captured.  For the next twenty eight months, Beerbower was kept as a Prisoner of War in a camp.

    One small blessing was that Beerbower was not alone in his imprisonment; Harold Andrews, a Crawford County native, was interred in the same prison with Beerbower.  The pair was held in the prison together until their release in August of 1953.  Typically, both Prisoners of War attend the Annual Twenty Four Hour Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Vigil together, in the hopes of someday helping in the return of the Missing in Action heroes.  However, unfortunately, this year Andrews had a family obligation and was unable to attend alongside his friend. Regardless, Beerbower proceeded to attend the event , as per usual, and continued to work towards bringing missing soldiers home.


    Life Coaching Growing in Demand in Turkey

    Turkey Life Coach, Esra Doyuk

    Turkey Life Coach, Esra Doyuk

    According to an article recently completed by Today’s Zaman, the number of self-proclaimed life coaches in Turkey is always increasing—growing quickly as a new profession.  However, according to Esra Doyuk, a life coach herself, many of her clients don’t even really understand or know what it means to be a life coach.  Doyuk is a graduate of Bilkent University, making her among the meager fifty to fifty five life coaches in the country with proper and official training for the profession of life coach; Doyuk acknowledges that, while the profession is steadily growing more popular, and demand for the service in the country is increasing, not many practicing the profession have adequate training to really embark on the career.  This is changing, however, as the Official Gazette of Turkey declared life coaching as an official profession on the twenty ninth of June in 2013.  The United Nations has also listed the job as one of the most promising professions of the next decade.

    However, showing a mere interest in the profession does not equip one to tackle it; there are many misinterpretations of the career circulating in Turkey.  Doyuk claims that her profession is often confused with the roles of mentors, therapists or consultants—various professionals who focus on past problems, as opposed to building bright futures.  To Doyuk, it is the latter that is the focus of a life coach’s job; the coach is to help in calling forth their client’s own potential by asking focused questions.  The proper life coach, to Doyuk, also believes that anyone can get what he or she wants; if one person can achieve a certain goal, it can be done again, by someone else.  Fundamentally, life coaches help their clients answer their questions of “how?”  Coaches never tell their clients what to do; instead, they focus in on the expressed wishes, and help the client find a way of making it become a reality.

    Specifically to Doyuk’s practice, questions were asked as to how her religion plays a roll in her duties as a life coach; she is the only coach in turkey to wear her religious head scarf.  Doyuk says coaching and religion fit well together—that coaching urges not to judge or force one’s own morality on a client, just as her religion preaches.


    Variations in Life Coaches

    Life Coaching Purpose and Variations

    Regardless of the variations of Life Coaches, they all set out to better the lives of others in one way or another.

    There are many variations in life coaches, from the training they have received, to the experiences that fuel their practices and the fees they charge for their services.  According to an article recently completed by the Fort Myers Florida Weekly, Bob Riley is one such variation.  He has added the labels of PhD and MBWA to the end of his name, although he acknowledges that he has no formal degrees or training; the letters, instead, represent his experiences, as a “paper-hanging degree,” and that he earned a “masters’ by walking around.”  These titles are meant to represent his various work experiences over the course of his years, where he has worked as an aircraft electrician in the Navy, as an operator for the suicide and crisis hotline and a brief time spent running a child care center.

    With these experiences, Riley is able to help his clients on a path to self-help, moving forward through talking, not through use of medications.  Through meager talking, Riley, and other life coaches are able to help their clients find a much-needed boost in self-esteem and self-confidence.

    However, not all life coaches thrive solely on their decades of work experience in other fields.  Some life coaches hold certifications, degrees and trainings, particularly in fields related to domestic abuse, finance and addiction.  This is the case for Rebekah J. Fero, a financial life coach and certified financial planner based in Port Charlotte.  She holds strictly to holding her clients accountable for their own goals.  Fero also says that her methods of carrying out regular meetings with her clients is common for coaches; she places calls, which allow for her clients to remain in a comfortable setting while facing the proposition of change.  For Fero, to accurately coach someone, the life coach must immerse themselves in their client’s life—a deep understanding of their insecurities is needed to fix the faulty thought patterns evident in the minds of the client.

    Another fluctuation between life coaches is salary and fees charged for services.  According to statistics provided by the International Coach Federation, the average salary of life coaches worldwide is fifty thousand four hundred dollars.  However, the mean salary is closer to thirty thousand dollars, indicating a wide variety in fees offered for services.


    Nantucket Vets Receive Medical Services

    A map of the Island of Nantucket

    Veterans of Nantucket will no longer have to travel off of the island for primary care, speciality visits, or emergency treatment.

    In a recent article by The Boston Globe, it is said that Veterans will now be able to receive services on the island of Nantucket. It has been ten years but now veterans will be able to receive medical services on the island rather than making a journey to places like Virginia in order to receive care. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has worked alongside the Nantucket Cottage Hospital in order to put together a range of services that include primary care, speciality visits, and emergency treatment, according to officials. This arrangement would also benefit veterans by removing an expensive and time consuming issue that they have been dealing with for many years. Many people have neglected receiving any type of medical treatments because the travel is such a hassle. Officials hope to change this.

    In a recent statistic only 2% of Nantucket’s veterans are frequent visitors of the Vetran Affairs medical system. This number is very low compared to anywhere else in the United States for veterans. The problem officials want to solve is that many veterans are struggling to receive care and there needs to be a better system in place where all veterans receive care – not only the ones on the island of Nantucket.

    While receiving care through this veteran health system is mostly beneficial, it can sometimes present many obstacles as well. According to the VA officials, only 24% percent of the veterans are eligible for health care compared to the 72% veterans across New England, as stated by outreach specialist for the VA New England Healthcare System, Mike McNamara. Moving forward, there are also prospects of there being more regulations and obstacles in the way for Nantucket Veterans to receive health care.


    The Organizational Influence of Chefs

    A great chef is extremely organized and prepared with only the necessary tools and ingredients that he or she needs for that specific dish.

    A great chef is extremely organized and prepared with only the necessary tools and ingredients that he or she needs for that specific dish.

    If you are seeking a more “ordered” life, then maybe you should think about adopting some of the organized behaviors of a chef. In an article by NPR, we are made aware that  Americans have been enjoying following and eating like celebrity chefs. They have even been interacting with them on social media websites, like Twitter. People try and learn as much about food and cooking from their favorite celebrity chefs, but could they actually learn more from them than just food? What about how to be more organized?

    According to recent research of consumer habits, Americans have been spending a great deal of money, $10 million to be exact, on self help books. This has made the market huge and very profitable. People speculate that the market is so big because most colleges and grad schools don’t teach their students about organization and how it should be used in their day to day lives. One place that does teach these types of life skills is in culinary schools and in professional kitchens.

    One way chefs and kitchen workers organize themselves in the kitchen is by planning and setting out ingredients and supplies before they need them. This saves time and energy for later when they actually need the supplies. The system or mantra that kitchens use is a French phrase “mise-en-place” translation “put in place.” It means to the French, gathering and placing the ingredients in an order for cooking. However, for many chefs and their staff in America, the phrase has a deeper meaning. They view this phrase as a way of life and a way of “concentrating your mind to only focus on the aspects that you need to be working on at that moment and to rid yourself of distractions.” This is according to Melissa Gray, a senior at the Culinary Institute of America. This is a skill that many students take with them to their daily lives and into their work lives. For example, after Melissa was taught this phrase in class, she was able to go home and reorganize her home office in such a way that the items she used the most were in arms reach for her.

    It is apparent that when you apply organization in one aspect of your life, it becomes natural to apply it elsewhere. Careers as chefs and kitchen workers are of course not the only careers in which organization is necessary or executed, but it is a solid foundation to refer to when it comes to the day to day logic.


    Touch the Secret to Healing?

    The genuine, comforting touch of a persoin can make all the difference in the healing process.

    The genuine, comforting touch of a persoin can make all the difference in the healing process.

    In recent years, the word ‘touch’ has been developed and been assigned negative connotations.  The word is associated with items of sexual harassment and abuse; mostly negative affections are acknowledged, and positive reaffirmations often get thrown to the wayside.  However, according to an article for The Huffington Postcompleted by a life coach, the removal of this negative viewpoint on the word is crucial to finding true happiness in one’s life.

    The article was prompted by feedback received from one of the life coach’s clients.  The client indicated that the coach’s regular physical contact in accompanying their sessions helped heal even more than the words and advice the coach issued.  Prior to this, the coach didn’t really notice the persistent touching they issued; it was an unconscious effort, which resulted from growing up in a physically affectionate family.

    As soon as this realization was found, further thought was pursued.  Based in Los Angeles, the coach shortly realized that most individuals automatically apologize if they even get too close to someone else in their travels about the city.  The coach found this sad, as they recalled the benefits they received from the physical contact pursued by their parents.  A simple stroking of the back could ease stress and increase a healthy understanding of the individual’s sense of self.

    But touch and physical contact has shown to be little more than a dirty word to the general public, in the opinion of the coach.  It seems that society—particularly in the United States—has developed a fear of touching.  Apologies are issued before physical contact even occurs, based in the conception that it is an invasion of privacy.  The term is now most often associated with sexual harassment or abuse.  However, in the coach’s childhood, touching was associated with connection and unity; it was a means of communication and a gesture of caring and friendship.  When the coach first arrived in the United States, this disconnect between their definition of touch and the general public of the nation was brought to attention.  The coach’s lawyer had originally believed the coach was hitting on him, as their inclination towards touching was obviously perceived as uncommon.

    However, that was not the case; the coach had simply been raised that touch is the first and most important language we learn to express.  As infants and children, we demand to be held.  With time, as observed by the coach, some are told to stop reaching for touch, as they are a big boy or girl now and should no longer require that validation.

    For the coach, this is a completely incorrect message to send.  Through the power of touch, individuals can decode emotions; touch is more versatile and sophisticated than verbal communications.  To ignore it is to let some part of a person’s individuality behind.  To truly find happiness, we must become comfortable with reaching out for others and encouraging reaching out in return.  Caving to the fear of touching due to a concern of having affections returned inappropriately leads to a shell of a life.  Actions speak louder than words—a message of love will be received much quicker through a hug than through the uttering of the words—and, therefore, touching should not be viewed as a negative, but as a pursuit of health and happiness.


    Knowing Values Key to Fulfillment

    Practice positivity by listing the values that are most important to YOU and trying to live them out each day.

    Practice positivity by listing the values that are most important to YOU and trying to live them out each day.

    One of the most pulling subplots to the travesty that was the Holocaust is those who risked their lives to shelter the Jews.  Some took this a step further, using their positions of power and authority to find ways to allow Jews to escape to locations of safety. One such man was Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Catholic diplomat who served as the Portuguese counsel general in Bordeaux, France during the war.  As Portugal was neutral in the war, de Sousa was in a unique position to grant visas for Jews looking to escape.  Despite a law that was in place requiring prior permission before travels were approved, de Sousa and his staff managed to grant thirty thousand visas in the course of three days.  For his actions, his superiors with the Portuguese Foreign Office dismissed him of his duties and stripped him of his rank, salary and pension.  Regardless of all he lost, even years after the fact, when de Sousa spoke of his actions, he was clearly proud of his decisions.

    De Sousa’s example raises a question of the decisions leaders make and the possible actions and reactions.  According to an article recently completed for The Huffington Post, leaders face difficult decisions like de Sousa’s every day; granted, not all of these choices are a matter of life or death—and, as a result, the gap between competing values can be less wide—and, therefore, the better choice between the two can become less clear.  An everyday application of this gap is provided in the article, as leaders of a family struggle with how to provide sufficient monetary funds for their family and still find time to spend valuable quality time with said family.

    The article advises a common practice encouraged by life coaches to help in navigating the gap between competing values. Often, coaches will suggest their clients create a values list, which contains ideals and principles most important to the individual. Some examples provided include caring, decisiveness, being family-oriented and loyal.  To develop this list, coaches often guide the author through decisions and times of contentment experienced in the past.  Which decisions have provided a sense of pride? Which experienced accomplishments resulted in the most contentment?  From this, the client can often discern what their priorities in life are—what they value the very most out of life.


    Head of Honolulu VA Vague in Statement about Guam Clinic

    It is important for all veterans to have the timely and efficient health care that they deserve.

    It is important for all veterans to have the timely and efficient health care that they deserve.

    According to a recent statement by Sloan Gibson, the Acting VA Secretary, Veteran Affairs wishes to be nothing but transparent and accountable to the veterans in the nation in need of care.  In Gibson’s opinion, veterans should be able to trust their system for health care.  However, according to an article recently completed by Guampdn, one VA official appears to not be living up to Gibson’s mandate.

    Guam’s Community-Based Outpatient Clinic is under the command of the Honolulu Veteran Affairs; overseeing the clinic is Wayne Pfeffer, the medical director of the VA Pacific Highlands Health Care System.  Pfeffer released a statement recently that was very vague in assessing and declaring the state of affairs for the VA clinic.  In the statement, Pfeffer claims that the Guam clinic appears to have no issue with excessive wait times.  However, Pfeffer’s statement did not provide any facts or statistics to back this claim up.

    According to the article, this is information that Pfeffer should have and be able to relay to the general public.  Veteran Affairs has mandated each clinic report figures for a bi-monthly data update to track improvements and continued shortcomings of the clinics across the nation.  If Pfeffer is fulfilling his obligations to the VA, this information should be collected regularly and be on hand for comments such as the one Pfeffer released earlier this month.

    The question then becomes what the cause is behind this vague statement.  Does Pfeffer have these statistics, and is simply displeased with the findings?  If this is the case, he could purposely be choosing to hide the information from veterans and the general public.  If, however, he does not have this information on hand, he is not fulfilling his duties by the standards set forth by officials serving the Veteran Affairs clinics and organizations.  Either way, it is clear that Pfeffer is not fulfilling the edict of Gibson, as his vague and misleading comments have only sprouted distrust and worry, not comfort, reassurance and trust.  If Pfeffer cannot be upfront and transparent in his statements on the state of affairs of the Guam clinic, he will be seen as anything other than accountable.


    Vets Who Fence Together, Grow Together

    Veterans On Guard provides a bonding experience as well as a healthy outlet to work through frustrations.

    Veterans On Guard provides a bonding experience as well as a healthy outlet to work through frustrations.

    Veterans returning from service often struggle to readjust to the life of a civilian.  However, finding a way to bond with fellow veterans has been proven to be a successful technique of reacquainting with everyday life; veterans going through the same struggle can work together to ease into normality.  Knowing this, Liz Cross set out to create a free program that would allow veterans to meet and bond, while receiving a fair bit of exercise to help work through the frustrations of previous experiences.

    According to an article recently completed by ABC News, when designing this program, only one sport came to mind that could meet all of her requirements.  Fencing, which relies heavily on a combination physical activity and mental agility, would be the perfect solution for struggling veterans and active duty members.  To her, the sport’s emphasis on strategy, focus, determination and a strong honor code just naturally meshed well with the existing traits of those who serve; in essence, to Cross, the sport was a sort of natural extension on a veteran’s abilities.

    The group she formed, often referred to as Veterans On Guard or The Fencers Club, began last fall and now holds twenty veterans and active duty members.  Participants are of all ages and come from a variety of wars and branches of the military.  They meet twice a week to study the epee style of fencing.  In a typical session, participants engage in conditioning, the study of footwork and techniques, as well as lunges, jumps and arm work.  Cross’s goal with the group was to engage disabled and able-bodied service members to integrate into the broader community, through a variety of experiences, both involving in the actual study of fencing, as well as through the sharing of stories and knowledge from their time in the service.

    Most participating veterans, such as Alberto Cruz, first heard of the program through the VA of New York Harbor’s Healthcare System.  Cruz, a United States Air Force veteran, has found the club to be very beneficial; focusing on fencing allows for a return to something familiar—discipline.  Through the community of veterans, he has also learned so many new things, from vets that served in a variety of different battlefields and wars; it has been a very positive means of getting out frustration and helping others at the same time.