Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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KonFessions

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After reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and learning more about the KonMari method, I have dedicated the next few months to decluttering like I’ve never decluttered before.  Dr. Oz and Marie Kondo are both right – you feel less stress when you have fewer items clogging up your life (and surroundings).

As you can see from the above tower of clothing – this weekend, in between outings, I continued to work on my clothes.  I’m no longer a smugly mcsmuglord like I was last year.  I’ve had to stop saying look how much I’ve gotten rid of you peons and take a really hard took at what I was hanging onto – which Kondo forces you to do.  I had t-shirts from university – granted that was only a couple of years ago, because I’m so young, ok maybe more than a couple of years, but I never wanted to get did of them because they represented some of the best times of my life.  As I read the book, I became aware that even if the sweatshirt and t-shirts go, I’ll still remember everything.  That was also true for some t-shirts that I got on trips when I first started travelling.  I never wore the shirts, even when I was younger I knew that they were Glamour Fashion Don’ts, but I held onto them like a dutiful pack rat.  I’m happy to say they are all gone, along with a whole bunch of other clothes that fit into 4 garbage bags for donation and 1 for actual trash.  For those of you that are curious, and no judgment if you are, here is a tally of my dearly departed clothes:

  • 5 coats
  • 1 scarf
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • 4 purses
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of boots
  • 1 blouse
  • 1 dress
  • 1 shawl
  • 2 bodysuits
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 13 camis and tank tops
  • 9 pairs of socks
  • 26 sweaters
  • 22 tops
  • 21 t-shirts
  • 6 sweat shirts
  • 1 belly dancing belt

I didn’t talk to my clothes like Kondo suggests in her book, thanking them for their service.  I also played music which she doesn’t recommend.  I did enjoy the process and it’s nice being able to see my colour coded clothes (something that I’ve always done) – don’t laugh, it makes life easier.  I feel like my clothes can breathe, and that because they aren’t jammed together so tightly, maybe I won’t have pilling on my favourite sweaters.  A girl can dream right?  I probably didn’t get rid of enough to pare my wardrobe down to KonMari standards, but I’m very happy with what I kept and don’t miss a single item that I threw out or donated.

The next item on Kondo’s list, and I am going in order, is books.  I got rid of 29 books in total.  Konfession – I still had books from my PR days, a few other text books and a number of books that there was no hope that I’d ever read.  All text books are now disposed of – I realized that I thought, perhaps, that I may refer to them, and guess what?  They’ve never been opened – they sat on my shelf like sad orphans wishing that I’d sold them to another student.

BIG KONFESSION (spelling intended-it’s a play on KonMari)!  I finally realized that I wasn’t going to ever read “The English Patient”.  Bigger KONFESSION – I hated the movie.  I can admit it now, but way back when it came out, it was frowned upon to not rave about the snore-fest, I mean film.  So as a dutiful snob, I went out and bought the book thinking of how sophisticated I’d look reading the book as the weirdo next to me on the subway clips his nails (yes, it happens).  More books than I can write about are being donated to my condo’s library and Value Village.  I thank them for taking space up on my shelf, but now it’s time to set them free.  I feel very KonMari saying that.  See below for what is affectionately known as “the pile”.

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Until next time, happy decluttering!

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My Father and the Little White Box

A few months ago, I received a message from my step-sister letting me know that she had some of my father’s things and offered to ship them to me. This was very kind given that we only met once. My father and I had a strained relationship at best. I am not going to get into the details. It is no longer a factor in my life, and even though I had issues with my father, I do not have Daddy issues. To be fair to someone who cannot defend themselves, those problems belong in the past. I forgave my father a long time ago. I am writing about it today because it is the fourth anniversary of my father’s funeral.

I was curious to see what would be in the box and two padded envelopes that were coming. Maybe a piece of information that would help me understand my father a little, maybe an unseen photo of my mother (likely not) or even my mother’s parents. The box and packages came separately, and when I opened them, it was a lot of family photos from my father’s side of the family. I didn’t really know many of the people. There were a couple of photos of me, and many more of my sisters (the curse of being the youngest child). They also contained his medical diplomas, a cub scout hat from when he was a child, two rings (his medical school ring and a class ring) and finally a digital watch and a couple of other men’s “fashion” watches.

The items themselves didn’t make me feel much of anything. What saddened me the most was that his life came down to a little white box. Imagine living for 83 years, and that is your legacy. I think about my mother, and her life was so much more. Recently, I had a charity come and pick up most of her clothes, some kitchenware, books, cds, toys and a few knick knacks. It was just under 20 boxes and bags. I’ve thrown out 8 garbage bags of things and gave another couple of bags to a senior’s home. Her house is still crowded with her life, her things. My mother had a bigger life. She had interests. She was an artist – a pottery and needlepoint buff. She had so many photos and other treasures. It is all proof to me that she was once vibrantly alive.

My father didn’t have a big life. He was all about his medical practice. He enjoyed gardening and reading, but he was also very introverted. My mother had a presence about her. I remember watching her at her sickest moments, noticing that she still had a spark – a will to live. When I saw my father in February of 2015 for the first time in almost 20 years, it would also be the last time that I saw him. He was gravely ill, but even worse, he didn’t have that energy, that will, that my mother did. My mother’s death left me aching for her presence, but comforted in the fact that I can see that her life had meaning, because of what she created and because of the impact that she had on people. My father’s death left me sad for a person that didn’t have an anchor. When I grieve for my mother, I grieve for her loss and for what I lost. When grieved for my father, it was for the things that I never had. Now what I have is that little white box.


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Project Empty: Try or Cry (2018)

Yes, you read that correctly – I got a little busy at the end of the year when I was going to send my final thoughts on these products, so here are my 2018 empties. As always, I’m supposed to say that this is only my opinion. You are welcome to disagree (although, sadly, I am always right, at least that’s what I tell myself). It is a long one, so get cozy. Just a reminder, buy is a product that I recommend and cry is one that I do not.

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Eye Cream Mini (Cry) – This didn’t do much for my under eye area AND it dried out before I could get too far into the product and it was a mini.

Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (Cry but HMMMM) – This is difficult because I used it at a time when I wasn’t supposed to be using glycolic acids or any type of AHAs. In fact, I am still using Retin A so I should not be using any chemical exfoliant. I can’t recommend this product, but I really can’t offer an opinion. I would say try it if you are not on Retin A or if you do not have sensitive skin, it is a well reviewed product.

Drunk Elephant LaLa Retro Whipped Cream x 2 (Buy) – Here are my feelings on this skin cream. One note, I don’t know how I got my first jar to last 6 months, it is more like 2 months now, but it is a good product.
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/project-empty-buy-or-cry/

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Sensitive Daily Moisturizer (Buy) – This is a very good product if you have sensitive skin. It is especially good if you are on an isotretinoin for acne and your skin is in that very dry phase. It helped me a lot, but at the height of my treatment, I went through one of these every three weeks. It is also tested on animals so I stopped using it in favour of Drunk Elephant which ended up being more cost effective too.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Eye Contour Cream (Cry) – La Roche-Posay makes excellent products that really worked on me. I just didn’t find that this really did any more for me than using the daily moisturizer on it’s own. I did get this free although I don’t remember why.

NIOD Ethylated L-Ascorbic Acid (Buy if I had to) – This was not a bad product, but the dropper made it really difficult to apply and to judge how much to use. I prefer Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum. It has the perfect pump. This does smell better than C-Firma though if that is what is important to you.

Clinique Foaming Facial Soap (I believe that it is now Foaming Sonic Facial Soap) (Buy but not cruelty-free) – I got this from a friend a couple of years ago. It was fine, did what it was supposed to do. It didn’t majorly dry out my skin or cause any type of skin irritations which is always a concern for me. It was a mini so it was perfect for travel.

Estee Lauder Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask (Buy but not cruelty-free) – See above – I have the very same feelings about this product. Since it is not cruelty-free, I’ll stick with Drunk Elephant.

Ahava Mineral Foot Cream (Buy) – When I first had my ankle surgery and my cast was removed, my foot and leg were SCALY in a see you later alligator kind of way. This moisturized my foot and made it look normal again.

Bite Beauty Agave+ Weekly Lip Scrub (Buy) – This worked well and the sugar exfoliated my lips nicely. It has a delightful taste. I’m not in a rush to repurchase this, but only because it feels like one more step for me. Maybe I’ll pick one up at the next Sephora sale.

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in Clear (Buy) – This is an amazing product – I used it every night and it is by far the product that worked the best on my parched lips during my stint with isotretinoins. I will pick another one of these up as soon as I finish with my current night time lip treatment which should coincide with Sephora’s summer sale. I don’t need to stock up on lip treatments. One at a time is my new mantra.

Beauty Bar The Ten Spot Lip Balm (Cry) – This lip balm has a nice scent, but it is just an ok product. There are better out there, but it is a Canadian brand if you want to support it. I’m not sure if they still make this product.

Feet Treat Pedi by Look Beauty Intensive Moisturizing Foot Mask (Buy) – This worked really well on my feet – it was very moisturizing. The little plastic bags though, make your feet feel disgusting while you are doing the foot mask. I would also recommend plunking yourself in front of the TV while doing this – they are very slippery too. Enjoy the moment, relax and take a load off.

Sonia Kashuk Makeup Brush Cleaning Spray (Buy) – This cleaned my brushes so well and was so easy to use. The sprayer worked until the last drop too. I just wish that it was available in Canada.

L’Oréal Total Repair Replenishing Detangling Care (Cry) – I bought this out of desperation at the drug store one day, because I couldn’t find anything else. This weighed my hair down which almost never happens. It did detangle though, so if you have course hair and are ok with a brand that isn’t cruelty-free, this may work for you.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Hydrating (Cry) – I just don’t find that primers do anything for me in terms of wear time or finish for foundation, and this product was no exception. It was a point perk from Sephora. It is not cruelty-free so I would not buy it anyway.

L’Oréal True Match Healthy Luminous Makeup in Warm (Cry) – I think they may have rebranded this True Match Lumi, but I recommend leaving it at the drug store. I found the formula hard to blend and the texture almost felt oily. I’m cheap so I used it up, but I was never happy with my foundation. Next.

Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Swish & Pop Blusher in Love Glow (Cry) – The colours were beautiful and went on nicely, but this blush did not have staying power on my cheeks. It is cruelty-free, but there are better options out there that are less expensive.

L’Oréal Infalliable Liner in Brown (Cry, Cry Cry, a thousand times cry) – I don’t think that they make this eyeliner anymore and I can see why. It is terrible. It does a few things that I’ve never seen happen with a liquid liner – it runs and smudges and causes raccoon eyes. If they didn’t discontinue this, stay far, far away.

Tarte Colour Splash Lipstick (Mini) in Soaked (Buy) – This was the perfect lipstick. Great colour, great formula and great lasting power. It also had a really nice finish. It is one of my favourite formulas and once I’ve used up a sufficient amount of lipsticks so that I’m not overwhelmed with volume, I will repurchase.

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick (Mini) in Fig (Buy) – This is also a great formula. Click here for more thoughts on this lipstick (Fig was a great colour)
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/project-empty-buy-or-cry-updates/

Sigma Tranquil Lipgloss (Buy) – Sorry, I don’t have a shade name or photo. This was really good, but it had a really weird brush applicator. I find doe-foots easier to apply gloss with. It still was a really nice product but bought it at Winners so odds are good that I won’t see it again.

Essence Lash Princess Volume Mascara (Buy) – I prefer Essence’s Lash Princess False Lash Mascara, but this is a good option if they are sold out. It lasted, didn’t flake or smudge. The price is right too at $4.99.

Guerlain by Emilio Pucci Palette (Cry) – I never loved the shadows in this palette. They had a thick consistency but stayed on with primer. I also bought it in 2007, so I thought it was time to get rid of it! Guerlain cosmetics are not my favourite (except their foundation) and they are not cruelty free, so I will not be buying anything from the line.


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Project Empty: Buy or Cry Updates

As I mentioned in my previous Project Empty articles
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2019/04/22/project-empty-buy-or-cry-2/, I am trying to use up or declutter a lot of beauty products this year (and next). How many times have you bought the same perfect pink nude lipstick twenty times in one year? Seriously, how many of the same shades of anything do we really need? I have become more aware of this, and spent my money at the Sephora sale almost exclusively on skincare because I am now completely out of my full-sized products and have been using trial sizes. Here are some more products that I have used up in 2019. The opinions are not meant to offend anyone AKA if you love something I hate, that’s totally ok. We are all different.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (Buy) – see the article linked above for my thoughts. Just a reminder, do not stock up on this product as it will degrade and oxidize over time. Buy only as you need it.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream x 2 (Buy) – Click to read my thoughts
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/project-empty-buy-or-cry/

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil (Buy/Cry) – I got this in a “Littles” set from Sephora which is a great way to try Drunk Elephant products. I think if I mixed this in with my moisturizer, I would have liked this product more. People rave about it, and I am willing to give it one more chance. I just didn’t think it was the best thing ever.

The Body Shop Shea Body Butter (Buy) – This is a good body moisturizer. It is rich and creamy and I will buy it again because it is also cruelty-free. They always go on sale so wait for one.

Gold Bond Rough and Bumpy Skin Daily Therapy Cream x 2 (Cry) – Click here to read my thoughts on this product.
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/project-empty-buy-or-cry/ . Not bad, but not great.

417 Foot Nourishing Cream (Cry) – This was thin and not creamy at all. It did nothing to soften my tootsies. I recommend Ahava, this was just a cheaper alternative.

Germaine De Capuccini Synergyage Clinical Intense Renewal Exfoliating Mask (Buy) – This product works well for acne prone skin. My skin is no longer acne prone so I don’t need it. I am also not sure if it is cruelty-free or not, but it is very good.

Avene Tolérance Extrême Masque (Buy/Cry) – Avene is an excellent line of products especially if you have sensitive or acne prone skin. I only had a sample size of this masque so I am not sure if it really works or not. It is also not a cruelty-free brand. If that doesn’t matter to you, then I highly recommend this line.

Ciaté London Fierce Flicks Precision Tip Liquid Liner (Cry) – This was without a doubt, the very worst eyeliner that I have ever used. It is highly rated but I found that it was too thick and smudged like crazy on me. There are way better eyeliners out there that are at least $10 cheaper and won’t make you look like a raccoon.

Physician’s Formula Eye Booster Lash 2-In-1 Boosting Eyeliner and Serum in Blackest Black(Buy) – This is hands down, my favourite eyeliner and you can get it on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart or Wal-Mart. It lasts all day and it really does help your lashes (it is not a miracle worker though). If you are looking for a true black, get Blackest Black. Black tends to look a little gray.

Lancôme Juicy Crayon’ Lip Gloss Pencil (Buy) – I believe the colour was plum, but whatever it was, it was the perfect colour and a great texture that had lasting power It was a really nice formula, but the brand is not cruelty-free so I will not repurchase this product.

L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascara in Black (Cry) – I bought this at Winners (Canada’s TJ Maxx) last year before realizing that I should just go cruelty-free. It is a very dry formula and I bought the waterproof version so it made it even worse. I used it twice and threw it out.

Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara (Cry) – My sister gave me this mascara in 2018. It is not horrible, but it flaked a lot on me. I hate that in a mascara plus the product is not cruelty-free.

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Legendary (Buy) – I got this as a gift in a holiday lipstick set and it is a mini. It is such a beautiful formula, it lasts. The only issue is that the colour didn’t work for me so I had to declutter it. Smashbox makes great lip products and they are very under-rated.

Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Curviest Caramel (Buy/Cry) – This is a great product. It has a smooth, hydrating formula and the colours are beautiful. It is not long lasting, but it doesn’t fade after an hour either. It is only a cry because it isn’t cruelty-free.

Klara Liquid Lipstick in 27 (Buy/Cry) – This was another Winners’ purchase. It is a very nice formula for a liquid lipstick. It was fairly comfortable and not gloppy. The only reason it is a cry is because the colour was terrible – it looked like I ate a powdered sugar doughnut and wasn’t lady-like enough to use a napkin after. It was a light pink metallic formula and I think the colour would only suit a 19-year old.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Genius Gel Super-Charged Foundation (Cry) – This was another Winners purchase. In fairness, I used this once and threw it out – it had gone bad and smelled terrible. Lesson learned: Winners has great makeup available but be careful with foundation. I believe that this product is discontinued.

Smashbox Studio Skin 15 Hour Hydrating Foundation in 1.15 (Buy) – This is a really nice foundation that is long-lasting with a nice, natural finish. I wouldn’t exactly call it hydrating, but it is a very good cruelty-free product. It doesn’t cake or crease on me. Their shade selection is excellent.

Becca Velvet Blurring Primer Perfecting Base (Cry) – This literally did nothing for me. I didn’t find that it kept my foundation on any better than not using a primer. I have yet to find a primer that does anything for me. This was a point perk from Sephora so at least I didn’t pay for it.

Maison Margiela Replica Beach Walk (Buy/Cry) – This smelled amazing! It really did smell like a walk on the beach. The cry is because the brand is not cruelty-free. This was a sample. I’m finishing off all of my old perfume, then will look for cruelty-free alternatives.


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Project Empty: Buy or Cry

Like many people, I am trying to be more responsible about my self-care habits. That means different things to different people. To me, it means, buying less of everything. The last few years, I bought far too much makeup. I’m reasonably good about skincare because I know that some have ingredients that deteriorate so I don’t stock up on it – I’d rather not throw away my money. Makeup became an issue and this is the year that I am limiting what I purchase to only items that I need like foundation and buying less of what I don’t (eye shadow palettes and lipsticks). I am also trying to use up products that are not cruelty free. In the YouTube world, this is called a low buy. In my world, it’s called project empty. I’m not a YouTuber, nor am I an Influencer, so I realize that I don’t need to have a million of everything and I should only buy replacement items or something truly unique. I’ve spent a lot less money this year (I’ll compare 2018 to 2019 at the end of the year) and I’m also getting rid of items that do not suit my colouring. Hanging on to them does not “spark joy” in the words of the great Marie Kondo.

I’ve had a lot of empties over the last little while and need to play catch up. Similar to my other Buy or Cry articles, I’ll let you know if I would re-purchase the item (buy) or not (cry). I’m supposed to tell you that these are just my views and you can think what you want. All true – but I’m right about everything!!!!!!!!!!!! Actually, I have really sensitive skin so you aren’t going to see a lot of variety in skin care. I have a fair complexion; even if I like a formula, certain colours may not work for me. You are also going to get an honest opinion about the product whether it is cruelty-free or not. Just my little warning….Now here we go:

Lancôme Hypnose Drama Mascara (Cry) – I received this mascara as a gift. I know that people swear by this brand’s mascara, but I always find that it flakes on me so I would not re-purchase it. It is also not a cruelty-free brand if that is important to you.

Estée Lauder Double Wear Extreme Zero Smudge All Effects Mascara (Cry) – This must have been a point perk or gift with purchase based on the small size. I checked the website, and I don’t think that they make this exact product any more. The wand was tiny and perfect for your bottom lashes. It was a great formula too with no flaking. Unfortunately, Estée Lauder is not cruelty-free so I couldn’t purchase the mascara, even if it was available.

Becca Mini Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter in Moonstone (Both) – This is a great formula from a cruelty-free brand. The only reason that it is a cry is because I prefer the Vanilla Quartz shade which is a little lighter. If you have a lot of highlighters or it just takes you a long time to go through one, I strongly suggest the mini-size. In Canadian dollars, the mini is $27 and the regular size is $46, making the larger size the better deal, but unless you put it on with a spatula, this will last you at least 9 months and will ensure that you actually use up your product so that it will be fresh.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in paaarty (Cry) – This was a 2017 Sephora Birthday Gift that I finally used up. The colour was nice – it was a neutral pink. The formula was nice, easy to apply, pigmented enough to not need to build it up, but not so pigmented that I felt like a clown. The major draw back was the lasting power. I found that it disappeared on me in about 3-4 hours. It is cruelty-free if you still want to try it.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayon in Night Mauves (Buy) – I got this in a Sephora lip box in December 2017. Those boxes are one of the reasons that I have far too many lipsticks so I decided to stop buying them. I believe that this was a full size. It is a unique formula – it really feels like you are wearing nothing on your lips and has the lasting power of a liquid lipstick. It does not make your lips feel dry like a traditional liquid lipstick would. The colour was perfect. If I ever get down to a reasonable amount of lipsticks, I would 100% repurchase this cruelty-free product.

No 7 Moisture Drench Lipstick in Berry Blush (Both) – No 7 lipsticks are not available in Canada. I first tried them when I went to Europe and fell in love with their formula and perfect colours. I would always stock pile them when I went to Europe or the USA. The reason that this is getting de-cluttered was simply because it smelled off. I bought it in October 2016. I also cannot find information on whether the brand is cruelty-free or not, so I’m going to take a break from it. If that is not a concern of yours and you want a great drug store brand, this is it.

Bésame Cosmetics 1930 Noir Red Mini Lipstick (Both) – Bésame is one of my favourite brands. This came in a mini-lipstick set that I received as a gift. The formula of the lipstick is perfection. Their customer service and packaging is also perfection. The only reason that this is a cry at all is because the colour is way too dark for me. If you have a deeper complexion or just like very dark lipstick, then this will work for you. I highly recommend this cruelty-free brand.

Empty!

Joico Daily Care Leave-In Detangler (Buy but….) – This product did exactly what it promised – it detangled my very tangled hair. It did not weigh my tresses down, nor did it make them feel greasy. It is perfect except….it is not cruelty free. I believe that the issue is that the brand sells in China. I’ve read that China may eliminate the need for animal testing in the very near future. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Eau De Parfum 30ml plus sample (Both) – I loved this perfume. It reminded me of old school sun tan lotion. It is beautiful and unique. I got compliments every time I wore it. Alas, it is not cruelty-free. Hopefully, one day I will be able to buy this beautiful fragrance again. Until next time Tom….

Empties

Bath and Body Works 24 Hour Moisture Cream in In the Sun (Both) – This is a great body cream. The scent is the perfect affordable complement to Tom Ford’s Soleil Blanc. It has that same amazing sun tan lotion scent that just screams summer. The issue? It’s not cruelty-free. I have a ton of Bath and Body Works products to use up. They always do those buy 3 get 3 free (really who needs that much body lotion?) and I have some that are gifts. I won’t need body lotion for a very long time.

Ahava Dermud Intensive Foot Cream (Buy) – This brand is cruelty free and vegan. This foot cream saved me when I had my cast off after surgery. My foot was as dry as a lizard and my skin was flaking off – it was gross. Within a week of using this, my skin was back to normal and it has really helped with heel cracking too. It isn’t cheap, but I have not been able to find anything that works better on me.

All Empty – All Cruelty-Free

Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream (Cry) – This was expensive and it just did not work for me. I actually felt like it made my under eye area even drier.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum (Buy) – All Drunk Elephant products are pricey (this one is $100). This one happens to be worth it and lasts for about 3 months. Do not stock up on Vitamin C serums, even if it is on sale or Sephora is doing one of their Rouge/VIB events. The product will degrade in time and they have a very short shelf life.

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum (Cry) – I got this is “The Littles” gift set. It was worth the $110 to try more Drunk Elephant products and see what I liked and didn’t like. The little container held a lot of product – this lasted me for almost two months. It was long enough to see that this just did not work for me.

Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser (Buy) – This is a great face cleanser and a little goes a long way. This one tube has lasted me for almost 6 months which makes it cheaper over time than other drug store brands. It is $40 but you can save by buying it at the Sephora sale – it will keep if you buy one or a spare but don’t go crazy and buy ten. It leaves your face satisfyingly clean without drying out your skin.

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream (Buy) – I wrote about this product in my last Buy or Cry. Here is the link to learn more
https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/project-empty-buy-or-cry/

Are you on a low buy or doing a project use up yourself? Tell me what your favourite products are.


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Castaway: The Final Chapter

On October 3, 2018, I was given the clearance by my doctor to take my first steps. I had already made a physio appointment for the next day to help get me moving as soon as possible. The doctor also warned me, in a slightly condescending way, that if I didn’t do what I was told, I could potentially lose mobility and flexibility in my ankle. His exact words, “We babied your ankle for six weeks. Now you have to be aggressive or you will not recover properly. You need to be out of the walking cast in one week.” Determined to show him that he misjudged me as a potential princess, I asked if I could take my first steps, then and there. He nodded and I got up, almost squealed in pain, but I wasn’t going to show any sort of emotion and then tried to walk while using my wheelchair as a crutch. I underestimated how weak I would be, how painful it was to try to walk on my now inflexible ankle and how poor my balance would be. I took my note for physio, plunked myself down in my wheelchair, and my cousin, kindly took me home. All I could think about was how was I going to take off the walking cast in a week. How was I supposed to walk more than 5 steps?

There wasn’t a lot that I could do that first day, but I committed to standing, at the very least, as often as I could, using a walker to help me maintain my balance. I only took 5 steps that day. Better than nothing but not the strides that I was hoping for either. I eagerly waited for physio the next day wondering what the difference between passive and active exercise would be. I showed up at Totem Life Science and was told to wait in my wheelchair for Katie, my physiotherapist. I wasn’t afraid of the pain that I knew would come, but I was afraid of losing my balance a little and re-injuring myself. Katie is a young, positive, skilled physiotherapist. She got me to stand, then walk around the examining table. She looked at my ankle, and showed me the passive exercises that I was supposed to do. They were the ones that I could basically do lying down. I had to rotate my ankle every hour, ten times in each direction. Point and flex the foot the same amount of times, then use an exercise band and do the same thing. I was also supposed to ice it, pretty much hourly. I walked a little more, but felt very thrown off by the cast. I started to understand why I needed to be out of it so quickly – it made me feel unbalanced and it was also hurting my hips. She told me to bring my walker, if I had one, and my running shoes the next day.

I did all of the passive exercises, every hour on the hour like I was told. I iced my ankle, and I went back to physio the next day. Katie told me when I got there, that I would be walking out the door that very day and that I was going to do physio in my running shoe. My ankle was sore, and I had my doubts, but Katie said – trust your ankle – it’s solid, remember that it will hold. So I did. I walked back and forth (with the walker) and did everything that she told me to do and being out of the cast made it so much easier. I asked what else I could do at home, aside from the passive exercises, and she said just walk as much as possible and ice my ankle as much as possible. She said try to walk without the cast when you can. I committed to doing everything that I was told to do and more. I used my mother’s walker which was way too short, when I got home and walked the corridors of the the condo. I knew that there were about 180 steps end to end, and I did the walk three times that afternoon. It hurt, more than I can tell you, but I did it. Then, I did it again, two more times that day, happy to see some progress. Over the weekend, I did it 6 laps, 4 times a day. I pushed the walker away and used I forced myself to walk to it. I did all of the passive exercises all weekend long.

When I went back to physio, Katie could see that I made a big effort and that my walking improved and I stopped using the air walker in 6 days. She was able to spend the time doing ultrasound therapy and massage versus watching me do the assigned exercises. She would add new exercises to improve my balance and my dorsiflexion (ability to move your foot upward so that it is closer to the shin which is crucial for walking). I added single leg squats, regular squats, sideways walking and balancing on my leg to my passive exercise routine. If you don’t work on dorsiflexion, you will limp, have issues walking up and down the stairs and have the potential to injure yourself. Speaking of which, within two weeks, Katie had me try the stairs. My mantra became up with the good and down with the bad. This essentially meant leading with my good foot up the stairs, and the bad foot down the stairs. Once I could figure out the stairs, I did them as often and possible and walked outside so that I could get used to different terrain. I walked as much as I possibly could.

In addition to twice weekly physio sessions, I also saw Stacy, a chiropractor, who was a great support in my recovery. She is one of the owners of Totem Life Science and referred me to Katie. She was also the person who explained to me that the intense, burning pain that I was having was nerve pain. I went to Stacy once a week for additional massage and ultrasound therapy. It really helped to speed things along. By November 5, I was able to go back to work and by December 20, Katie and Stacy both told me that I was well enough to no longer require physio. Here are some tips to remember if you are recovering from ankle surgery and starting to walk:

Everyone is different and will respond differently to treatment and physio. Not to sound cheesy, but recovery is really a marathon and not a sprint and you can’t compare where you are to someone else. Worry about your progress and only your progress.

Do your exercises at home religiously. Don’t shortchange yourself. If you do them at home, your physiotherapist can focus on the “hands-on” therapy that they are so skilled at rather than babysit you as you do the exercises you should be doing on your own. They are trained professionals and will know if you aren’t doing everything that you are supposed to at home. They notice your range of motion and gait. By ignoring the exercise, you hurt only yourself and you will have a longer recovery.

It will hurt – there is no way around that, but the ability to walk is worth it. The pain gets better in time.

You will notice huge changes the first week, and like me, you will get so excited and then….. After the first two weeks, the hard work really begins when you have to really focus on your dorsiflexion. It is the very last thing to come back, and you need to keep pushing through this part of your treatment and your progress will slow.

Lose your pride. I walked with a walker inside and outside. I used canes, had my air cast on to help keep my distance from people. One thing that I didn’t care about was how people saw me. I wanted to walk and I wanted my mobility back as quickly as possible and if it meant that people would see me in a walker, then that was fine. I also knew that I had the good fortune of knowing that my situation was temporary. Others do not have that luxury.

People watch and be sensitive – I always give up my seat on the subway to people who are older, pregnant and have mobility issues. When I was on public transit with a cane and cast, I was offered a seat maybe 60% of the time. People can be rude, but that doesn’t mean that you should be. Use your injury to be a more thoughtful rider.

When I went to my final orthopedic appointment on November 21. The doctor kept saying look at the nice veins! Your ankle looks really good! Look at the flexibility, it’s really coming. He told me that he was impressed with my progress. This was the very doctor who a few weeks early looked at me so skeptically. I wanted to say, you doubter! I showed you! Instead, I just said the truth – I had a great physiotherapist and chiropractor and I listened to them and did everything that they told me to do. My ankle gets a little stiff and sore here and there, but overall, I couldn’t be more grateful for the ability to get myself around pretty much like I used to. They say it takes a full year for the swelling to completely go away, so I’m trying to be patient.


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One Year…

“What is it like?” I was asked by a woman who shall remain nameless. “What is what like?”, although I knew the answer before she told me….”What does it feel like when you lose your mother? I’m so close to mine that I can’t even imagine…” She looked at me pleadingly, and I asked her if she really wanted to know and she nodded. “It’s a ache in your heart that just never goes away. It is a nervous buzzing in your stomach that gives you a feeling of always being on edge. It is a lump in your throat that you cannot swallow away. You cry in unexpected places at unexpected times because you saw a mother with her child and it made you miss yours. There is the feeling that you are seeking something that you can no longer find. The best days are bittersweet because you can’t share your happiness with the person that would take the most joy from it. The difficult days are even harder because your mother is no longer there to comfort you. That is the best way I can describe it.” She looked at me with such shock and horror that I almost regretted telling her.

Grief has become my comfort and my foe. It is always there, a feeling like a dam that can burst at any time. It is a comfort because it has been a constant, and it is my foe because of how easy it could be to just be about it. I feel myself moving on, but more because that’s what I know that my mother would want, and even in death, I cannot disappoint her. Days go by quickly, and in some ways in slow motion. People expect after a period of time that your mourning has ended once you get through all of the firsts, but I want to tell them that it is just the beginning. I’ve had half of my life with my mother, and I will likely have to live without her for almost as long. A year, a day, really, it’s the same. When I have a bad day, I remember a moment when I was beside myself, wondering what I would do without her, and how I could cope with my sister’s illness. When I said to her, “Mummy, what am I going to do?” She said, simply, and knowing what I meant, “You’ll live your life.”

When I think about my mother, I think of the silly little things that I miss. They make me smile when it is one of those days. In no particular order, they are:

  1. She would say, “I’m not happy.” and I’d ask her “So which one are you?” and she’d say, “Dopey.” Get it? Like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
  2. When I was in her little storage room/office, I’d drop something, and she would say, “Is that you Dayo (her nickname for me)?” At first it would be lovingly said, then as I’d drop something else or hit my head as I always did, she would say, “JILL – what the eff are you doing in there?” Patience was not her strong suit, but it was funny.
  3. When she had one of her road rage moments in the car, giving someone the finger and swearing at them, and then looking at me with a big smile on her face as I barked like a dog at her.
  4. Laughing so hard at something together, that we were in tears, hyperventilating. This happened often and never stopped, no matter how sick she got.
  5. Sitting on the subway with her, as she stared at some weirdo or someone with a mohawk or who looked like they were carrying a knife, and me telling her to stop staring, that she was going to get stabbed, and she would continue to stare anyway while I rolled my eyes at her.
  6. Going to anything and being in the audience with her. My mother didn’t applaud like everyone else, she cheered and whooped loudly and proudly as my heart sank with embarassment at her.
  7. My sister is the treat queen and often hid candy at my mother’s, because my mother never found a cookie, cake, candy or pie that she didn’t like. She somehow always found the stash. One day, she told me to get her the jujubes that my sister had hidden, but when I went to get them for her, there were only green, yellow and black ones left. My mother had eaten all of the red and orange ones. She told me to go put the bag away, she didn’t like those colours and to get her something else. BRAT.
  8. The squeak of horror when she opened a menu on the one day a year, her birthday, that she would let us take her for dinner. Well, she didn’t allow us to take her, I had to tell her that it wasn’t gracious to rob us of the joy of taking her out. She was miserable, and acted like she had never seen the prices on the menu before, as she tsk-ed at each item. I also had to tell her if she ordered water and bread sticks, that we would take her out until she ate like a lady.
  9. The frantic phone call that I received when there was rain or snow. I also had to reassure her that I had an umbrella and/or a winter coat that I would zip up – every single time.
  10. Her shaking her head at me, with a big smile on her face, when I would do or say something silly.
  11. Her big smile when she would give me the finger.
  12. Her big smile when I walked in a room.
  13. Her big smile….

My mother had an amazing smile – it lit up her whole face. It was like she put everything she had into it. My mother was tiny, but her presence was so large. She filled a room even though, she took up so little space. Not a day goes by that I don’t get a little teary remembering something that she did or said. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember her strength and that is what gets me through missing her. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars that I had the world’s best mother. I think of a quote that I read at my mother’s funeral – “How lucky I am to having something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” How lucky indeed.


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2018: The Beautiful Awful

People posted their top nine moments of 2018 all over Instagram. My moments of the year are likely different than a lot of others. They are what I think of as the beautiful awful. When my mother died 321 days ago, on March 3 (yes I know how many days it has been), my life changed forever. I knew that 2018 would be the year that I would lose her and I knew that I would feel profound sadness, but I also did not realize that in that grief, there would also be moments of beauty.

My mother was an exceptional person, not just OK, not just a wonderful mother, but exceptional. She suffered with a smile on her face and even though she was in pain, in her final days she was surrounded by so much love and so much genuine affection, she had the death that she deserved. In the weeks leading up to what we knew was imminent, I saw quiet moments with her sister just holding her hand. I had my cousin, her son, come by to see her, putting a smile on her face. I remember her singing Happy Birthday to him – those are the last words that I remember her saying. I remember calling him one day, in tears, but getting his long time girlfriend instead, and she told me that what I was feeling was normal; she had lost her mother a few years before and reassured me that it was OK to feel this wave of grief. I remember my cousins in Florida asking me if we needed them there and when I said yes, they packed up everything and came and they acted like it was no big deal. I remember their daughter coming over and keeping my mother’s spirits up, knowing how bad it was. I remember my other cousins coming, surrounding my mother with love. I remember them comforting me and my sisters. There were always at least a dozen people around all day, everyday. I remember them forcing me to go out, go for a walk to get some air. I remember my friends offering to come, even though my mother was so terribly sick.

I remember the palliative doctor and nurse being so kind, and telling us how to ease her into death, not just by pain relief, but by just continuing to talk to her, even if she wasn’t conscious. The nurse hugged us and told us that she could feel the love in the room. I remember her care givers treating her so gently, and with so much love. The last night of her life, I remember we were all with her. One, by one, everyone got ready for bed. I was going to be up for a long time, and I was sleeping in bed with her at night to give her injections. When it was just me, and her caregiver (my sister literally left the room), I was holding her hand and she slipped away so quietly and so peacefully that there was even something beautiful in that moment.

There was beauty at her funeral. When she was buried, it was warm and sunny for a winter day. At the exact moment, when her casket was being lowered, it got warmer, and just a little brighter. I thought I imagined it, but when I looked at my sister and said, “Did you feel that, it just got warmer?”, she was looking at me, saying the same thing. We had so many people looking out for us the week of her shiva (the Jewish week of mourning and visitations) and in the weeks after, that it took awhile for reality to set in. I remember the first night of her shiva, my friend, who is my cousin, wanted to do something, anything, and he and his wonderful partner made all of the beds (including one on the floor and one on a chaise lounge). When I started to cry, they understood it was because it had been almost a year and a half since I had seen my mother’s bed made – she had been in it for so long. Even throughout the year, long after her death, her friends, and our family, continue to look out for us, and to remind us how much she is still loved, even if she is no longer here.

I will also remember how people have rallied around my sister while she continues to go through chemo. Our friends and family always call to check up on us. Our cousin always picks us up after her appointment and her doctor and nurses so clearly want the best for her that it warms my heart to go to her appointments. When I broke my ankle, our cousins and her friend were there to take my place at chemo. My sister continues to do as our mother did and not let this be all about her disease. She makes the most of her good days and takes it easier on the rougher ones, but she so rarely complains.

When I broke my ankle and needed surgery in the late summer, it was just one more thing in a year crowded with challenges. Even though the situation sucked, there were still moments that I will never forget. My friend staying in the ER with me, even though I tried to send her home numerous times. She was even there when they re-set my bone. There was my guardian angel of the ankles, showing up the day of my surgery and name dropping so that the doctors knew that I was not just an ordinary patient. He not only kept my sister company, but checked on me daily, reminding me that it is a marathon, not a sprint to get better. There was my dear friend who waited with my sister too and got me home. He took me out in my wheelchair a few times (and laughed at me each time). I had more than 50 visitors in the 6 weeks that I was laid up, from my food-delivering cousins to my close friends who baby sat me reminded me of their own injuries and those of their family when I was getting impatient keeping me entertained to my sweet (but feisty) British friend who has also been my life mentors and to everyone in between. I had one pity moment, but remembering my mother’s strength got me through that.

The last year left me a little bit more fragile than I have been before. Author Mary Gordon once wrote, “A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing is safe”. In my case, I would say, it’s a motherless girl. I still believe that all things are possible, but I no longer have the safety net of my biggest fan, harshest critic, comic relief and advice giver. This New Year, I decided to stop looking back at my old resolutions and try to figure out what my new ones would be. I’m going to be a little kinder to myself this year and just do as my wise mother suggested and live my life. Luckily, I have the beauty of memories of my little Mummy and her words of wisdom still with me whenever I need them.