Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


Don’t Be A Boob – Get A Mammogram if Your Doctor Tells You

Today I had my first mammogram.  I wasn’t nervous, but it is the unknown that always seems to frighten people.  I’m here to tell you that if your doctor recommends one, it’s not that bad.  I have a strong family history of breast cancer, including a primary relative.  Luckily, if there is any luck in this, we do not carry the BRCA gene mutation.  In Canada, they recommend speaking to your doctor if you are under the age of 50 to see if you need to have a mammogram.  Over the age of 50 (up until 69), and depending on your family history, a mammogram every two years is recommended.  Over the age of 70, again they suggest speaking with your doctor.

I spoke with my doctor, and based on my family history, she got me into a program where I have one every year.  I know the risks like false positive readings and I know that it isn’t a perfect tool, but anything that increases my odds of having a long and healthy life is worth it to me. 

So, the burning questions – what happens and does it hurt?  Well, you are going to get felt up and no one is going to by you dinner first.  You don’t even get a lolly pop at the end.  The most important thing that the lab forgot to tell me – the day that you are getting your mammogram, do not wear talcum powder and more importantly deodorant.  My sister reminded me a couple of days before, and had she not, I would have had to wash my Secret off.  Next most important – don’t forget your requisition form – they reminded me about that…a lot.  It would have been a good idea to remind me about not wearing deodorant at that point…just saying.  Also, if you have hair longer than chin length, bring an elastic – you may have to tie it up.  I did.  Once you get there and check in, you just wait for them to call you.  They were very much on time which made it better.

From there, you change into a fashionable gown and strut, ok, walk sheepishly into another waiting area where you fill out a form while praying that the front closing gown doesn’t open in front of a bunch of strangers (maybe that was just me).  When the mammogram technician came to get me, she was very kind.  She walked me quickly through what would happen and warned me that there may be some discomfort but promised she would be quick.  I listened intently to her instructions because the people pleaser in me wanted to be a model patient, plus I figured, the more I listened, the faster the whole process would go.

She positioned me to take the first image from the top, meaning, that my breast would be placed between two plastic plates which are then pressed together to flatten it to get a clearer picture.  The process is repeated on the other side.  It was a bit uncomfortable but more award than anything since you have to twist your head a bit so that it is out of the way.  I suspect, that if you have a more bountiful bosom, like me there is a bit more discomfort, but it’s nothing unmanageable.  She then told me that she would take a side image of each breast – pressing them in between the plastic plates from the side, and that it would be more uncomfortable than the first round.  She was right.  The good news is that it wasn’t horribly painful and the whole was over in under 5 minutes.  Anyone who tells you that it feels like someone is closing a refrigerator door on their chest is not only wrong, I’d really question how they know what that feels like. There is nothing to be embarassed about – they are sensitive and try to get you out as quickly as possible and are professionals who do this every single day.

Dr. Oz says that mammograms are not perfect, but they are the best diagnostic tool that is currently available.  Check out this video for his thoughts http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/10/marlo-thomas-mondays-with-marlo-mammograms-from-dr-oz_n_1765203.html.  Everyone has to be their own health care advocate and make the best possible decisons based on their own risk factors and advice from their family doctor.  Although I am not totally following his advice on this one, he likely has a point.  I just feel more comfortable, given my circumstances to be checked more frequently.  My two closest friends have been pestering me for years to go see a doctor – as much as I’m doing a lot of these things to get them to stop nagging : ), there is something empowering about doing what you can to try to live a long and healthy life.

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48 Weeks To Go

Week four is now over – and so is almost a month of trying to be the ultimate sleeper.  My tally for the week was another $3.99 for kiwis and for the month of January, it was $39.43.  Much less than I thought it would be, but I also looked for sleep suggestions that didn’t include herbal supplements which really kept my costs in check.

Even though the first month is basically over, I will continue to incorporate the best tips into my daily sleeping life.  I’ve written about what’s helped – not checking the clock, keeping my room cooler and quiet, keeping a bedtime routine and nuts, becoming nuts about nuts.  I’ve also started monitoring my walking – I’m not 100% at the 10,000 steps – usually somewhere in the 8,500-9,000, but if it would warm up, I can easily get there.  I’ve got my selenium and magnesium intake covered through the foods I eat – great!  I have a clearer understanding of what dreams mean and how I can use them.  I do forget to stay in sleep position to remember them.  Speaking of sleep position – I still wind up in a face plant – but I’ll keep trying to be mindful.  I’m also better at cutting off caffeine at a more reasonable hour.

I still need to try meditation – I’ve watched the video which is a first step.  I also have to turn my lights out by 11:15 – not as easy as I thought – I’m usually closer to being lights out by 11:45.  I haven’t started a worry journal, but this is because I haven’t need to.  Since I began this process, I have had an easier time falling asleep and even though I wake up 1-2 times per night, I can fall back into la-la land quickly.  I haven’t reached the 7 hour nirvana – but I have had a better quality sleep than I have had in a long time.  Even though it is time to move onto a new topic, I’m  thankful for all of the tips and will keep using them.

Tomorrow will be a very special entry – it’s about the one test every woman over 40 should have.  February 1 will be a brand new month with a brand new topic. 



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Side Effect – One of Dr. Oz’s Favourite Things!

In a previous post, I mentioned that one of the downfalls of not sleeping is feeling sluggish and fatigued throughout the day.  Kiwi fruit has helped, but I need, want and crave even more energy!  Well, I asked, and Dr. Oz answered – I need to up my magnesium.  This mineral gets little love, but it’s responsible for over 300 bodily functions – including many that help fight fatigue and make you feel more energized. 

Dr. Oz recommends getting your magnesium from food rather than supplements since you need a steady supply of it through the day rather than one big dose.  Many foods are good sources of magnesium including the almonds and brazil nuts that I’ve been eating daily for a better night’s rest.  Here are some other good sources:


-kidney and black beans – I love black beans but kidney beans look a little organy to me – guess that’s how they got their name : )

-whole wheat bread

-brown rice


-oatmeal – finally a use for that Scottish Oatmeal that I can’t make myself eat at night


-raisin bran


-shredded wheat or as I like to call it – punishment cereal – you want to eat it, enjoy.  I think it tastes like thread-like hay

I checked the Health Canada site – a woman in my age group – 31-50 – or as I like to call it, 29 again and again and again, needs 320mgs every day.  Luckily, I like a lot of the magnesium rich foods.  I’ll listen to Dr. Oz and only take a supplement if I think that I haven’t had enough.  By the way, the side effect from having too much magnesium?  One of Dr. Oz’s favourite things –  POOP – diarrhea actually.  In case you were wondering, this blog will not be discussing poop.  The good Dr. has a ton of information on that subject.   

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Me-Me-Me-Me – Putting the Me in Meditation

Meditation – OY VEY.  It’s something that sends shivers down my spine.  A BIIIGGGGGG part of me thinks it’s hooey (there’s that word again) but the other part of me knows that if Deepak Chopra and Ghandi do/did it, there must be something to it.  I believe that there are some people out there who truly are deep and can attain a meditative state.  I also believe that there are some very shallow people out there who see meditation as a way to jump on a bandwagon of things that they feel will make them seem deep.  You know them – the same people you see walking determinedly down the street with their yoga mat, in their LuLu Lemons (not the sheer pants heaven forbid), talking about how fabulous their “experience” was and how Zen they feel on their iPhone in one hand, with their Starbucks Zen Tea in other to prove to the world how in the moment they are.   To be fair, there are probably some people in the middle as well, just looking for alternative ways to relax which would be me.  We already established that I do have my shallow moments…but I do think…a lot…and need to learn how to quiet my mind.

The first two letters in meditation are ME – so hopefully something will resonate with ME.  Dr. Oz says, as part of his ulimate sleep challenge, to commit to meditative practice.  He even includes a handy video featuring Deepak Chopra to help you learn the basics http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/deepak-chopra-meditation.  I’m willing to try it, because a) Dr. Oz is telling me to, b) Trying things that are outside of your comfort zone are just good for you in general, at least that’s what I think and c) Deepak Chopra is guiding me…and even his name starts with Deep…

I’ll keep you posted on my meditative process…until next time…mememememememememememe.

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Hakuna Matata

…Yes from “The Lion King” – meaning no worries.  It’s what I aspire to.  I worry about everything!  My mind is always going because between creating world peace (in my mind), saving the whales and dolphins (at least I sign petitions to do this – thank you Causes for making it easy), rescuing dogs (well again, in my mind, but it’s important), and oh yeah dealing with work, family and friends, I can’t turn things off.  If you read my blog about dreams, you know that I dream about forgetting things all of the time.  I guess that’s a big worry – that something will fall through the cracks.  I’ve spent the last several weeks changing minor things to help me sleep like eating every type of nut imaginable, turning my clock away and keeping my room cool, but now, I think it’s time to go after the big guns – the real thing that keeps me up at night – worry.

In this article, which is interesting, give it a read, http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/how-to-worry-less-and-sleep-more Dr. Oz’s resident sleep expert, Michael J. Breus, suggests keeping a worry journal.  Thank goodness – I’ll finally have some use for all of those notebooks that my family and friends always buy me.  Just a clue everyone – I have more than enough notebooks – tens of them in fact – very generous thank you, but even if you see an adorable Kate Spade notebook or a truly elegant journal made out of rich, corinthian leather (insert Ricardo Montalban’s voice here – if you are too young to know who he is, check out this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_HMIN0nGl0) – please leave it at the store – I am fully stocked, in fact, I have enough to last me until the day that I depart this earth.  I’ll miss you all….but don’t worry – it’s many years away at least according to deathwatch.com.  See my mind is always racing and before I get completely off track – back to the worry journal…

 It is exactly what it sounds like – a place to focus all things during the day that are causing  anxiety and stress. The idea, according to the sleep expert is  “…to take your worries from your mind to the written page, helping you to relax.”

I’m going to pull a Shia Labeouf and take the steps right out of the article – oh right, I’m actually giving Dr. Breus the credit – never mind the pop culture reference.  Here is what you do:

  • Select a notebook or notepad – You can buy one, but admit it, you have a few tucked away somewhere
  • On a blank page, draw a line down the center, creating 2 columns. Do this on three pages.
  • At the top of the first page, write: I need to remember to take care of…
  • At the top of the second page, write: I can’t forget to…I think this is almost the same as the above bullet point, so I’m going to omit this
  • At the top of the third page, write: I am so worried about…
  • In the left column of each page, finish the sentence at the top, writing down everything that occurs to you.
  • In the right column, address the concern, worry, or task, by scheduling a time to think about it or deal with it.  Smart – by making yourself accountable, you will worry less.

I’m going to state the obvious, that everyone’s worries are different and their own business.  I’m only going to keep this journal if I am having a problem sleeping on that particular night, but I will be getting the pages of my worry journal ready.

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You Snooze You Lose?

I get it…sleep is important.  I have to stop thinking of sleep as being lazy and start thinking of it as healing my body.  The Type A (I think I’m more of a B+, but people disagree) in me has to realize that work is still going on while I am at rest.  My body is using the time to repair itself…at least that will be my mantra.

My “Whiz-ard” issued the Ultimate Sleep challenge in an article on his website http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/dr-ozs-ultimate-sleep-challenge – check it out in case you want to try it out too!  Here is a quick snap-shot of his recommendations:

  • Quit smoking – I’ll get on that right away!!! Oh right, I don’t smoke – never mind.  If you do – quit – it can disturb your sleep and oh yeah cause cancer and heart disease
  • Go on sleep surveillance – interesting.  I don’t drink coffee after 4pm but I do drink tea *blush*, I don’t have more than one alcoholic beverage in a day *phew*, I do work out, but not as much as I should, I do eat dinner after 8pm which he does not recommend *blush again*, I don’t get up and go to bed at the same time on the weekends, but Sunday-Thursday I try to
  • He recommends keeping a sleep diary.  I’m going to forgo this and try the worry journal that I will tell you about in a future post
  • He suggests committing to a meditative practice – I’m going to try this on the weekend and post about this as well.  I think meditating will difficult for me, but I committed to doing what Dr. Oz told me and if he says meditate, I’m going to give it a try
  • Take 10,000 steps a day.  I used to do this every day until plantar fasciitis kicked in.  I’m charging my Nike Fuel Band now and will do this again, even if it means wearing that ugly Strassburg Sock (AKA passion killer) forever
  • Set a sleep schedule.  This is actually a very smart idea.  Basically, it’s no caffeine 4-6 hours before bed, no heavy meals 2-3 hours before bed, turning off all electronics 60 minutes before bed, having water 30 minutes before bed, make sure your room is sleep friendly 5 minutes before you go to sleep and wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day.  I’ll try these – but, as I mentioned, weekends tend to be tougher.  I did as the sleep expert on Dr. Oz recommended and only stayed in bed for one extra hour on the weekend so I’m getting there!
  • Keep paper beside your bed and write things down as you think of them (this is basically a worry journal).  I’ve never done this and it seems like a great idea
  • Ban the snooze button – ok I’m guilty – I use this every day.  He has a point – just set your alarm for the time you should be up, there is no benefit to snoozing.  Point to be taken
  • He suggested some energy boosters, but right now I’m more interested in the sleep tips – there is already a lot to remember

….now where did I put that notebook – I need to write a list of things to do so that I can sleep…

I’ll keep you posted on what worked and what didn’t.


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49 Weeks to Go

Week three is now over – I can’t believe how fast it’s going.  My tally for the week was a measly $2.00 for kiwis.  Obviously not from Whole Foods.  If I bought them there, they would have been personally flown in using alternative energy sources to my non-solar powered home.  My apologies – I’ll try to quit making fun Whole Foods….for now…I do have to say, that the kiwis (they weren’t organic – sorry!!!) did give me an energy boost in the morning, just like Dr. Oz said that they would.  I really thought it was going to be hooey – yes it’s a word – but I felt better all day long.  I had to have an apple today – no more kiwis, and it worked too. 

Since we are talking about things that seem to work – here is what has been helping get to my sleep goal:

  • Not checking my clock through the night.  I never thought this would make such a difference, but it has.  I no longer stress about how much time I have to sleep because, quite simply, I don’t know.  I still have until the end of January to discover more tricks, but it has been the biggest help
  • Turning my alarm clock away from me – again, I’m learning not to be so time obsessed and it helps keep my room darker
  • Trying to keep some form of routine before I go to bed – it really does seem to work
  • I can’t tell you if the nuts are helping or not – I’d have to eliminate them and right now, I don’t want to mess with anything
  • Keeping my room cooler – as much as I hate being cold – this does seem help

Here is what I need to work on:

  • I’m supposed to be in bed, lights out by 11:15 Monday – Friday.  I’m still reading at 11:45.  I do need to work on this
  • Turning off my thoughts – my mind tends to wander and race when I turn the lights out.  Luckily there is supposed to be a solution for this – a “Worry Journal” but more on that in a different post

Dr. Oz has the “Ultimate Sleep Challenge” – I’m going to see what he has to say and report back.  I’m going to get seven hours of sleep if it’s the last thing I do…

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The Face Plant

I just read a very brief, yet interesting article on doctoroz.com http://www.doctoroz.com/slideshow/what-your-sleep-position-helpful-or-harmful?gallery=true&page=3

It asks – what kind of sleeper are you?  Here are the different types:

  • The side sleeper – this is the most common and it’s how I start out my sleep.  According to the attached, the quality of sleep is low because you put pressure on your hips and shoulder.  So not only am I not an efficient sleeper – I’m a low quality sleeper – great – way to give a girl a complex
  • The stomach sleeper – this is the most problematic as it causes back and neck pain.  This is the position that I most often wake up in or as I like to call it – the face plant – because when I wake up, my face is planted right into the pillow
  • The back sleeper – the best way to sleep and if you are one of these sleep goody-two shoes, give yourself a pat on your back (before you get into bed of course – hard to pat it when you are lying on it).  More importantly, this position helps prevent wrinkles!!!!!!!  Who knew?  The good news for me is that I also sleep in this position

If you are anything like me, you don’t have just one sleep position.  I know that I toss and turn a lot.  I will try to be more mindful to lay on my back, at least when I am trying to fall asleep. 

One last thing that I read, and it was more of a reminder, for a better sleep, cut out caffeine after 2pm.  I always have tea mid-afternoon.  I’m not sure if I can stop this habit, but I am going to switch my usual medium black tea to a small green tea and see if that helps.  I’ll keep you posted.


Happy (cough) Birthday (cough)


“The Whiz-ard That is Dr. Oz” is really about the things that I am interested in and would like to work on in my own life.  My friends have always been important to me, and one in particular, let’s just call her T, my A++ friend asked me to dedicate a blog to her for her birthday which is tomorrow and to see if I can find some advice on a nasty cough that she’s had for quite awhile.  So my friend – here are some of the good Dr. Oz’s tips:

  • Honey – I know T that you have been using honey already, but Dr. Oz confirms in this link why it’s good for you http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/season-5-tip-nagging-cough.  Maybe try a teaspoon like he suggests before you get into bed…
  • Donna Cardillo from doctoroz.com had some great advice http://www.doctoroz.com/blog/donna-cardillo-rn-ma/cold-and-flu-home-remedies
  • Fresh Ginger Root boiled in hot water, like tea can soothe a cough or scratchy throat – I had ginger tea once when I was sick and it was soothing
  • Lemons can speed up healing so try some hot lemon in water.  I know you drink lemon tea so you may have this covered
  • Peppermint tea can act as an expectorant – who knew?  This can break up a dry, hacking cough
  • Gargle with salt water four times a day – I know you have been gargling – but has it been four times as suggested?

I love these suggestions but don’t want to try them, because that would mean I’m sick…but I am a fan of not taking over the counter medication for colds if at all possible.  They don’t seem to help me.  I’m always a fan of rest, vitamin c, chicken soup – it is comforting, lots of water and tea.  I hope this helps you.

In an article on doctoroz.com, Paul Hokemeyer writes the following on “The Therapeutic Power of Friendship: “….deep and soulful friendships enable us to heal, grow and change our lives. In them, we find the capacity to give and receive love and delight in being authentic with one another.”  T – you are such an amazing friend.  You have been there for me when I have been at my saddest, made me laugh or I made myself laugh (I’m hilarious – really) and you laughed at me laughing at my own jokes, you’ve helped me grow as a person, gone on some crazy trips to unexpected places (Graceland, Mall of America, Pittsburgh)  and truly I don’t know where I would be without you – you are family and I can’t thank you enough for being you.  Happy Birthday xo



Sweet Dreams Are Made of This – Part Deux

…sort of like Hot Shots Part Deux when Charlie Sheen wasn’t a complete weirdo or am I dating myself?  I never even saw the movie…

Oh well, back to the topic at hand – dreams! 

Your dreams are prime real estate for helping you get inspired since they tap into your subconscious mind.  According to the episode that I referred to in Part Une (that’s one for all you French novices) the subconscious = 88% of your mind’s power and tapping into that will allow you to do the thing that’s inspiring you.  In the case of the episode of Dr. Oz, it was a woman who wanted to eat better and exercise.  Since that’s what most of my March blog will be about, I want to use my dreams to better understand what I am trying to personally process in my non-waking hours.

I know that a lot of my recurring dreams are about me forgetting something.  The most common, and I know other people share this one, is I’ve forgotten to go to school to prepare for a final exam, in fact, I’ve skipped every single class.  I looked this up online and found the following translation which seemed to best fit:

  • The dream often occurs in approximation with having forgotten or being concerned about forgetting to do something important in waking life
  • The dream may reflect a sense of responsibility, duty, or choice where the dreamer knows what he/she should do, but is hesitant/reluctant to do the act
  • A change involving the end of something is imminent and there is low confidence about the future
  • It is a time when regrets of past actions or inactions have been in mind—a possible prompt to not “put off until tomorrow what can be done today”
  • The dream, when it comes in approximation with a significant date, such as a birthday, anniversary, school reunion year, date of the death of someone significant, offers the doorway to the classroom as a metaphor to paths not taken, the recognition that a “long” time has passed without goals achieved
  • The dream is a reminder not to miss an opportunity or take a more active role in one’s destiny

Published on September 7, 2009 by Dr. Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed. in Radical Teaching

All of this is very possible in my case because I’m always worried about missing things or forgetting to live life to the fullest. 

Another recurring dream that I have is having a loose tooth or losing teeth – very strange since if you know me, you know that dental hygiene is my life, well maybe not my life, but I am pretty serious about it.  According to http://www.teethfallingoutdream.org/loose-teeth-dream/ it generally means the following:

“Loose teeth in dreams signify that you are facing a difficult decision or transition time in your life. Common dream scenarios involve discovering that a few teeth have come loose; you may feel that a tooth is not stable and you’re worried is will come loose. These dream images point to concerns about the stability of your foundations in life and the prospect of letting go of something important to you.”

 Obviously, I spend a lot of my subconscious time worrying about things that are beyond my control.  I looked up some other recurring dreams that I had and they relate back to self-confidence issues.  I do believe, that this will be a year of positive change for me – not sure exactly how, but maybe learning that the not knowing part is what makes life exciting is something that I need to work on.
Last, but not least, did you know that you can change or eliminate nightmares according to Dr. Oz and his sleep experts?  Luckily, I may have other dream issues, but I rarely have nightmares (maybe one every couple of months).  They say that you can re-write the endings to make them more positive – i.e. a group of people is chasing you.  You re-write the ending to have it be a group of friends rather than malevolent strangers.  I’ve found that just waking up and saying to myself that it wasn’t real, thinking about happier things and saying to myself that I won’t be going back into the nasty dream helps. 
I completely FORGOT to stay in my sleeping position and try to remember my dream this morning.  Luckily, I remembered what it was and it was about forgetting to wear shoes and pack for a trip – nice to know that my theme of forgetting things is carrying on. 
Tonight I will be writing a special blog – it will be the first in a series of “dedications”.  I was asked by a very dear friend to write about a specific topic – getting rid of colds/dry hacking coughs.  ‘Tis the season for colds, so let’s see what the good Dr. Oz has to say.