Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


Random Acts of Kindness (Part One)

A couple of months ago, I was at McDonald’s buying my morning coffee – by the way it’s the best coffee in the world. Seriously – it’s amazing!  Love it – I’m not even a coffee drinker, I’ve been a tea drinker since I childhood.  There truly is something special about their coffee though – and I’m a snob.  I admit it, I love my creature comforts.  Roughing it to me now is staying at the Holiday Inn instead of a 4 star hotel, I shudder at “Furr-berry” (fake Burberry) and the cheapest lipstick that touches my pout is $18 – so you know if I’m going to McD’s for coffee, it’s fab.  The people who work at the one near my work are kind and so lovely.  They believe in “smiles are free”, they are unfailingly pleasant and they never get my medium with double milk and double sweetener order wrong.   They even try to remember my name.   Anyway, I was at McDonald’s and the lady serving me says to me “It’s on me today”.  I did a double take and tried to give her the money thinking that I’d misunderstood.  She insisted that I didn’t need to pay for that, that I’m always nice to her.  I walked out of there dumbfounded and overwhelmed by this small act of kindness.  It happened to me again in January with another lady that works there.  Again, I was dumbfounded.  I rarely, if ever buy food, just a coffee, and yet I was still rewarded.  I know people joke about working at McDonald’s, but I can tell you from having helped out there on McHappy Day for several years, that the people who work behind the counter are smart, hard-working and very deserving of respect.  I can also tell you that those small gestures made a big difference in my day. 

The final chapter in “You Being Beautiful” is called “That’s the Spirit – How to Find True Happiness”.   This chapter outlines the six paths to happiness.  The first three are (I’ll continue tomorrow):

1.  Being Postive – and Generous – According to this path, there is “…one secret that makes people healthier and happier: helping others.”  I can only speak to my experiences, but I do feel at my best when I am doing something that helps someone else.  For 3 years, I tutored kids once a week at an after school program at my old workplace.  Actually, about 15-20 of did this.  The children that I tutored ranged in age from 11-13 and had varying needs.  One simply just needed some quality time with an adult – he was really bright, one had some small behavioural problems (although I never saw them) and needed a bit more help with school work, and the last girl that I tutored was also fairly bright – I think history was her challenge.  I cared for all of them and the end of the year was always tough because they would be upset, I was sad, and I had to say good bye.   One of these kids actually inspired me to do the one thing in my life that I am the most proud of – I got each one of the participants in that homework club a home computer loaded with Microsoft Office free of charge.  They weren’t new, and it took a little digging, but I got them.  It was the most amazing feeling knowing that they could now have an easier time keeping up with their classmates.  If you ever have an opportunity to volunteer – take it!  Just figure out what cause is important to you.  It doesn’t have to be weekly – even just a little help can make a big difference.

2. Feeling Empathy – Empathy, according to the book “…allows you to connect with other humans – and transcend your differences…the more connected we feel, the higher our degree of generosity and compassion”.  Empathy is an amazing thing.  You may not know exactly what someone is going through, but you may be able to use something that happened to you to provide support.  How many times have you said – “I feel your pain” to someone?  You don’t exactly feel it, but you can empathize.  When someone shows me empathy at a difficult time, I see it as the highest form of compassion.  I feel like they understand why I may feel the way I do, and that is what make me feel less alone or embarassed. 

3.  Finding Authenticity – This is a little tough to explain unless you are Dr. Phil.  It’s basically “keeping it real”.  It means that you aren’t superficial – ok, even I am not as superficial as I may appear.  How many people say “This is my friend Jane – she’s nice, but a bit of a phony.  She’s great though” when they are introducing their friends to people?  I personally, don’t like being phony.  You have to be to a certain extent in your day to day life since you won’t always love everyone that you work with or people that you meet.  I think the point is to be the most real that you can be.  I’d rather wear my emotions on my sleeve (which I do – I have no poker face) than pretend that I’m something I’m not.  Being authentic is also about “…knowing how we exist in relationship to other people and to the world.”  Basically, just face it, the world doesn’t revolve around you – it revolves around ME!  Just kidding, nobody is that important in the scheme of things – well maybe Martin Luther King Jr, the Dalai Lama or Hillary Clinton.  One person that I am impressed with right now is Pope Francis – I know I’m Jewish but truly, it’s gratifying to see a leader act with sympathy and compassion.  I see pictures of him embracing disfigured people, helping the poor and just delighting in the small moments of life and it makes him human.  He acknowledged (FINALLY) that gay people shouldn’t be judged, is reforming the Vatican Bank and doesn’t even bother with the trappings of wealth.  He walks the walk – or in short is authentic.  He may not be preaching to the choir when it comes to me, but I applaud him. 

There is too much to write about in just one entry so I’m extending my February topic until March 1.  Tune in tomorrow for part two of this entry!

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A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime…

Before I get into today’s topic – just some follow up to yesterday’s entry…my cold has gotten exponentially better in one day.  I still don’t feel 100%, but I started feeling much better when I had my mother’s home made tomato soup.  Sorry, it’s not canned, it’s the real deal and it was fantastic…but aside from tasting good, it was also filled with Vitamins A and C, potassium, some iron and of course, everyone’s favourite antioxidant – lycopene.  It’s very strange, and not recommended by Dr. Oz, but I do feel much better.

Now back to the “Whiz-ard”…

I’m officially in the touchy-feely part of the book – “Being Beautiful” which is about building better relationships and finding your path to happiness.  There are a few pages on the importance of friendship.  According to the book (page 280), “Good relationships with people (and having a real buddy) can help stave off depression, add years to your life, especially if you’re trying to weather the storm of stress.”  They also ask some questions which I’ll paraphrase:

-Do you have strong relationships with others that are strong and healthy and contribute to your happiness?

-Have you found ways to give to those people, showing your gratitude for the gifts that you’ve been given?

-Are you able to dig a little deeper with those people and get beyond the superficial?

These questions made me think back to a day at my esthetician’s – I was lying helpless on the waxing table or she was zapping my zits, and we were having some very deep conversation about friendship (after we quickly discussed her fabulous shoes and lovely bracelet).  She said something that still resonates with me today – she didn’t come up with it, but I’m going to give her the credit anyway – friendship is for a reason, a season, a lifetime.  Truer words were never spoken!  You don’t realize it until you get older, because when you are in your teens and twenties, everyone is your friend.  As you get older, and people disappoint you (cue the violin music), your true friends are revealed but, and it’s a big but (not that kind – and that’s spelled butt, silly) – it doesn’t mean that the other people aren’t important because they may have touched your life in a very profound way.  Let’s examine this and no names are being used, to protect the innocent and not so innocent:

A Friend for a Reason – My friend for a reason was someone that I thought would be a friend for life, but I think we disappointed each other in some very real ways.  I don’t dislike this person, in fact, on some level, I will always care about what happens, and I can’t say whether they will ever be part of my life again, but they did come into my life for a very important reason.  I also had some of the best times of my life with them – my first non-family trip away was with her, my first trip to Europe, some ridiculous moments in residence at York, learning to get freebies together…just a lot of very fun moments.  Some of the not so fun moments were when I felt that she wasn’t there for me when I needed her friendship, even though I was always there for her or realizing for the most part, our friendship meant that I had to do more of the heavy lifting so to speak.  On her side, she thought I didn’t accept her boyfriend(s) – although that was never the case – and I also disappointed her, by not being the best friend that she needed.  I never needed to have just one bestie, and to her, the fact that there were people in my life who also fulfilled this role was a disappointment.  I’m sure that there were other things as well, but like I said, for a very particular reason, she was my friend and this reason was probably the thing that was the most important thing that had happened in my young life.  I can’t tell you what it is, c’mon, I need some level of privacy, but I’ll be eternally grateful to her and hope that if one day, she reads this, she’ll know that her friendship still means a lot to me.

A Friend for a Season – We’ve all had these, friends that are fun to hang out with, for a moment in time.  There is no big blow out, just a casual drifting, always intending to call, but never quite getting around to it.  I’ve had a few of these in my life.  Again, there is a reason for this friendship – a fun buddy to get you out of the house, the smart friend that you can bounce ideas off of, or just a friend who you enjoy spending time with, but for some reason or another, you both simply get busy with your lives.  These are the friends that I look back on and have to think about a bit more than the “reason” friends, simply because the friendship just isn’t that deep.

A Friend for a Lifetime – I’m lucky to have a few of these.  I’m going to tell you about three in particular (no offense to anyone else, but I can’t write about everyone – I’ll get to you in another entry).  The first is a bunion sufferer.  She’s also the only friend that I’ve had since childhood.  Don’t get me wrong, we sometimes drift in and out of one another’s lives, but because her parents and my mother are the closest of friends, she’ll always be around.  There is a comfort in speaking to someone that knows your entire history.  There is also comfort in knowing that when something is happening, that is quite devastating, that they care about the person that it’s happening to.  Again, it’s the history that binds us, but the bonus is, that I just genuinely like her, she’s funny, a great speller and really have some interesting insights. Plus knowing someone from childhood, means a lot of in-jokes that are funny to you, but non-sensical to someone else.  Kit and Joey anyone?  Je t’aime Papa?  OK – I’ll stop, it’s annoying when people do that to me.

The second person is an all purpose friend.  I met her on a trip almost twenty years ago and she has become my true all-purpose friend.  I laugh with her – a lot…but more importantly, I’ve cried with her, and never felt judged or weak.  I’ve been there for her, and she’s been there for me.  When I went through a family illness, she’s the friend who knew when every appointment was, when I needed distraction, or when I needed to talk.  Most importantly, she treated me, the way she always had.  We would get together and do the things that we always did and that little piece of normality helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life and for that, I’ll always be grateful.  I’ve told her this before, but the thing that I admire the most about her is that her needs are simple – and believe me when I say this is not an insult.  It just means that she’s satisfied with her life, and anyone who is happy with their life (not that her life is perfect) – is to be admired.

The third person is a friend that has been with me through thick and thin (literally).  She may not know this, but it was one simple gesture that meant the most to me.  Again, it was dealing with that same family illness that I mentioned with my #2 friend above.  After a difficult day, she called me to come downstairs and dropped off bagels and some banana bread that she made for my family member.  The reason that this meant so much, was because, she is such a good friend that she even worries about my family.  That small gesture, meant more to me than anything.  Yes, she is a great friend, yes we laugh a lot, and yes there have been tears too, but sometimes, there is also great comfort in knowing that a friend doesn’t just care about you, but makes your family a priority too.  I love her family and she knows all about health issues.  Our friendship isn’t a case of misery loves company – more that hard times demand understanding and she provides that to me, in spades.

It’s always an interesting exercise to think about your friends and where they fit into your life.  It doesn’t mean one isn’t more important than another – just that they bring something different to the table. This of course doesn’t include my sisters who I value more than I tell them and rely on them more than they will ever know.  They are the friends that I was born with and who are stuck with me for life, whether they like it or not.  One of the best pieces of advice came from “The Facts of Life” – sue me, I’m a child of the ’80’s – in order to have friends, you have to be a friend.  “You Being Beautiful” also had some great words of wisdom:

“The more beautiful you look and feel, the happier you are.  And the happier you are, the more beautiful you look and feel and the more you can share with others your purpose in life.  And that’s a beautiful thing.”




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That’s right, I have a cold!  I hate being sick.  As an adult, it’s just no fun – no one takes care of you because they don’t want to get sick themselves, even if you stay home from work, the expectation is that you do work (at least for some people), if you take transit, people look at you with disgust instead of sympathy and get up and move as soon as you start blowing your nose. 

What does this all have to do with beauty?  I don’t know about you, but I am an ugly sick person – red, watery eyes, red dried out nose and pale, sickly skin.  Fun times, I don’t feel cute when I’m sick – not in the least.  Even a good hair day doesn’t help.  “You Being Beautiful” doesn’t cover the common cold, so I turned to Dr. Oz’s website for advice.  Great tips – but some are challenging unless you are a Girl Scout (or my eldest sister) – always prepared.  Here are the best of his cold and flu rescue pack:

  • Determine if it’s a cold or the flu.  He has a simple trick – are the symptoms in your head or your whole body.  Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy (that just reminded me – I need to buy some lemons) – they are all in my head.  Yup – I’m sick in the head – insert laugh track here.  I never have a problem figuring out what I have – I’ve had the flu before and it’s debilitating.  You just feel awful and there is nothing you can do about it.  Don’t get me wrong, colds are miserable – but you know you will live – with the flu, you wish you wouldn’t
  • The first product the good Dr. recommends is saline nasal spray – this is to flush mucus and bacteria out of your nose – fun!  According the the article on the website, purified water and sodium chloride nasal sprays are best.  Guess who has one??? C’mon, guess?  Whose a Girl Scout now?
  • I don’t have a fever so I’ll skip to the next tip which is…
  • …Black Current Lozenges which have gamma-linoleic acid, a fatty acid that soothes the throat and decreases inflammation.  I have mixed berry with Vitamin C – not the same, but let’s get real – I’m just happy to have something in the house.  These are still better than lozenges with menthol – can actually break down your body’s good mucus and damage the throat over time – who knew?  Lesson learned – I’ll pick up the black current lozenges do I’m prepared to wage war against the common cold virus.  I love that – G.I. Jill to the rescue!  Although if Dr. Oz was reading this would he think that G.I. stood for Gastro-Intestinal?  That just doesn’t have the same cool ring to it – Gastro-Intestinal Jill to the rescue – blech.  Next!
  • Sorry about the G.I. jokes, they are in very poor taste – it’s the fever.  Ooops – I already told you I didn’t have a fever – ARGH!
  • Seriously though, a DM or Expectorant Cough Syrup is next on the list.  You use a DM for a dry cough and an expectorant with a wet cough.  Right now, I have a slight cough, but nothing worth taking medicine for.  I do have DM cough syrup so my cold pack is looking good!
  • Buckwheat honey is the next item in your cold pack.  I don’t have this one – but it is high in iron, anti-oxidants and helps boost immunity.  I’ve also heard that honey is a natural anti-bacterial – so I’ll get some of this when I’m feeling up to it
  • Funny – Vitamin D3 (1000mg) is on the list, and  it’s supposed to boost immunity.  I’ve been taking it every day for the last week and still got sick…
  • He then suggests 1-2 cups of mushroom tea and no, it’s not that kind of mushrooms so stop laughing.  It’s the legal kind that you get from health food stores and it’s packed with immune boosting selenium.  Every since Mary Ann ate the poisoned mushrooms on Gilligan’s Island (IMDB – When the Professor, Skipper, and Gilligan all try to romance Mary Ann to console her after her boyfriend proposes to another girl, Mary Ann misunderstands and thinks she has caught the fatal “roomus igloomus” from eating poison mushrooms.) I haven’t wanted to eat them.  I’m going to take a pass and stick with black or green tea thank you.  I’m eating two brazil nuts every day to get all of the selenium that I need and I still got sick!

I’m going to go rest and try to finish “You Being Beautiful” – I’ll let you know if any of the “cures” help or not.

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Moody Blues

“You Being Beautiful” is an interesting book and I’m rather enjoying the read.  I’ve covered off most of “Looking Beautiful” although there is a chapter in there that is part of a topic for another month, so I’m not writing about it.  I’m almost at the end of the “Feeling Beautiful” section and so far, the most interesting chapter has been about moods.

A good chunk of the chapter is about depression.  I know people can be very judgmental about depression, not seeing it as a real illness, rather as an emotional reaction.  Sometimes, it is.  The worst thing in the world happened to me when I was 17.  My beloved grandmother died.  Yes, there are still people who think “well, it’s only a grandmother” but those are the people who also think that when a pet dies it’s only a dog/cat/goldfish.  My grandmother meant the world to me, and when she passed away, I was completely devastated.  I miss her horribly to this very day, but as you get older, you get perspective.  I understand now that she had a good life, never having to move out of the home that she loved, never facing a long term illness and having the opportunity to have people remember her as she truly was – a lovely, sweet and gentle person.  When I was 17, all that I could think about was that she would never see me graduate from high school, I would never have that unconditional feeling of love that she gave again, and I would never stop missing her.  For more than a year, I cried myself to sleep every night.  The difference was, I never had a problem getting out of bed, I never wanted to die and I could control my grief when I was out (for the most part).  I also had a little Cocker Spaniel – Rascal – who needed my attention.  Before you poo-poo the true magic of a dog, that dog was a reason for me to get up in the morning and was a reason for me to care about something besides myself – tough for a teenager, even on a good day.  He also provided endless sympathy – he’d looked at me sadly when I cried and sighed.  He was the best.

That was situational depression.  We’ve all had it to one degree or another.  Again, before you judge someone with true depression, think back to a time when a boy/girl broke your heart.  How many of us haven’t stayed at home with a pint of ice cream sobbing our eyes out, listening to a song that reminds us of them over and over and over again…kind of like a 3 year old watching a Disney movie…Well, imagine if you will, feeling like that all of the time.  It’s hard for me, because I’ve never experienced true depression, but watching people go through it can be heart-breaking.  As noted on page 229 of the book, “…depression isn’t a “mental” disease – you can’t control it, as you can your moods; it’s a “chemical” disease, no less a threat to your health than HIV/AIDS or diabetes.”  I for one, feel that people who have depression shouldn’t be embarassed, but people who judge others for being honest about it should. People that can cope on a daily basis with a chemical imbalance and can still lead a good life aren’t to be judged – they are to be commended.

Ladies, how many of us have felt out of control during PMS time – feeding frenzies, mood shifts, unexplained sadness – and you know that what you are thinking doesn’t make sense, but you feel it anyway.  More than 15% of us will have significant depression at some point in our lives – a pretty significant number – that means someone that you know or are close with could be affected.  Letting people know that you care and that you feel empathy for them is important.  Telling people to “get over it” is like telling a child to “grow up” or telling a smoker to “quit smoking”.  It’s just not as simple as that. 

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I’ve faced a painful fact.  Once I’ve read “You Being Beautiful” this month, I’m going to look exactly the same.  I’ve always had high hopes when I start a project and I’m once of those people that believes that I’ll see a huge difference in just one day.  “You Being Beautiful” doesn’t have make up tips (insert big sigh here), it doesn’t tell you what “your colours” are, and it certainly doesn’t tell you how to get the hottest hair of the season (BIG SHAME).  What it does tell you about is scientific standards of beauty and how you can maximize your health to look and feel your best because unlike Billy Crystal as Fernando Lamas’s take – it is how you feel, not how you look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXydX9p_ZxA I loved that video back in the ’80’s and if I’m dating myself,  I’m ok with that.

Getting back to the AHA moment – I like to sprinkle in a little Oprah since Dr. Oz is one of her discoveries – I’ve had one this month.  I’ve had some challenges remembering all of the advice from the book.  As I mentioned in my last entry, there are plenty of booms this month, but with every boom came a bust.  Maybe, the objective isn’t perfection, maybe, it’s being more mindful.  There it is, the self-helpy moment that I’ve been avoiding – after all who am I to give advice?  I’m not an expert, I’m also just a girl sitting in front of a computer, asking you to read my blog and love it, – sorry to go all “Notting Hill” on you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eit31oT-bDw – I don’t know where that came from – I didn’t even love the movie.  Let me rephrase that, I’m not an expert in any field, in fact my career in media makes me more of a generalist, but I really do think that understanding the benefit of mindfullness may be my biggest take away this month.

I had this epiphany in the shower this morning as I started washing my hair and piling it on top of my head, against the advice of Dr. Oz.  The difference is that I stopped what I was doing and started washing it the way he told me.  Then, I reflected on the fact that just the day before, I started nervously picking at my left cuticle – and guess what?  I stopped before I started, because I became more mindful of what I was doing.  I have been taking zinc every day, and I’m happy to say that the pimple that was the size of my baby toe has a twin sister (only a girl can provide this much grief) and despite this, I haven’t given up on the fact that it may still help me so I’m going to keep taking it.  My other epiphany is that there is no instant gratification – things take time to work, so I’m patiently awaiting clear skin.

Have you had an AHA moment of your own?  I’d love to hear about it! 


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Dear Diary + 45 Weeks to Go!

In honour of Super Fun Night’s season finale – yes, I am one of two people that I know that watch the show – I’m going to write in Kimmie Boubier’s style from the show and make this a “dear diary” type of entry.  You can have your drug induced “Breaking Bad’s” and your motorcycle Mama-ing “Sons of Anarchy”, your Debbie Downer of a show like “Mad Men” or your hipster loving “Girls”.  Ok I used to love “Girls” but seeing Lena Dunham constantly naked finally got to me.  You can judge me if you want, but it was too much of a not so good thing.  My top favourite show is “The Mindy Project” – I’m like the queen or more appropriately , the princess of the feel good, laugh out loud programs that show comedic promise only to languish in the ratings cellar.  What would Dr. Oz say about this?  He’d probably say that it’s good that I have hope.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that both shows will be back next year.

Now…back to business…

Dear Diary,

I only have 45 weeks left in my year long experiment to live the way that Dr. Oz suggests.  I’m starting to worry that pretty soon, without this to concentrate on, that my life will have no meaning.  Oh right, it’s week 45 not week 5 – never mind.  I will still have a meaningful life for a little while yet.  PHEW!  Dodged a bullet on that one.

This week, I learned a lot and spent a little.  Well, not a little but just over $18 for a bottle of Jamieson B50 Vitamins.  Those were really my only purchase. I tried really hard to remember to take them, not so successful, but I will get there.  Here are my booms and busts of the week:

Boom – Bought the B 50 Vitamins

Bust – only took them once

Boom – excited about my better night’s sleeps

Bust – didn’t sleep for one minute (truly) last night and am suffering for it now

Boom – Being really diligent about eating nuts

Bust – keep forgetting to grind my flax seed

Boom – drank 8 glasses of water a day

Bust – for the most part (totally on track today)

Boom – Stopped picking my cuticles

Bust – For one whole day.  I am taking it one day at a time, just like our mayor, Rob Ford – or is he?….Bad example

Boom – I’ve been taking Zinc supplements for my acne religiously

Bust – I have a pimple the size of my baby toe on my chin – I’m hoping that it just takes time to work

So you see Dear Diary, as Dr. Oz, and my favourite rapper, Deepak Chopra would say, oh right, he’s a spiritual man, not a Kanye disciple, in life, there is balance. 

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A Real Nail Biter

I don’t bit my nails – never have.  It grosses me out, especially since I take public transit and who knows what’s living in the land under my nails so why shove them in my mouth? I do have a bad habit though – it’s kind of a dirty secret…I pick my cuticles.  It can be so satisfying when I’m nervous.  I love picking at my hangnails.  My left thumb is my mecca of cuticle picking.  It’s a bad habit and I don’t even need to guess what Dr. Oz would say.  It’s a habit that I must break. 

How do these pesky hangnails start?  According to “You Being Beautiful”  it’s technically a finger crack and it’s the result of low humidity that’s why they are especially bad in the winter.  Finger crack sounds so much more dramatic than hang nail.  I’m going to call in sick tomorrow…”Sorry, my Dr. (Oz) told me that I have to rest my hand – I have a finger crack”.  Believe me, people have called in with worse excuses.  I also just gave myself away – so guess it’s hi ho, hi ho, off to work  I go tomorrow.  I may keep that in my back pocket though for another time.  ACK – I just gave myself away again.

Let’s stick with the matter at hand (get it?  I know bad pun) – how do I get rid of those pesky hang nails?  According the the book, use a moisturizer to keep your hands from drying out.  I’ve been religious about it this year, and it has helped.  They also recommend a liquid bandage to seal the cracks.  I personally also sleep with Polysporin on my cuticles when I’ve gone to town on them and it really helps.  I know, I know – I have to let that habit go (poetic isn’t it).

Here are some other tips from “You Being Beautiful” that I need to follow to help protect my hands:

-Wear cotton lined gloves when cleaning – I never do – I hate the feeling, but maybe, I need to get over it.  I give – I’ll by a pair of rubber gloves for cleaning

-Trim finger nails and clean under the nails regularly – umm…yeah you think?

-Never pull off hangnails – it’s ripping living tissue and can cause severe infections…ok I get the message – I’ll be good

-Apply a moisturizer every time you was your hands – I’ve got this one covered

-Pick your nail salon wisely – and I do…I go to one of two very clean places.  If you can’t see them sterilizing the nail instruments, don’t go there!!!  I’m not loyal – I’ll go to anyone at either place, but the lady who does my mani/pedis told me to give my feet a break over the winter and not polish them.  I love dark nail polish on my feet and it’s really staining over time.  If I can listen to her and give up pedis over the winter, I can take Dr. Oz’s advice too!