Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One

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Happy Birthday To Me and My Real Age

When I first took Sharecare’s “Real Age” (yes, Dr. Oz is a partner in the site) I came in at EXACTLY my age.  Today is my birthday, and in addition to crying if I want to (you would cry too if aging happened to you), I also decided to re-take the test to see what kind of progress that I have made.  Well, I’m happy to say that I came in at 1.4 years lower than my real age of muffity biffity (did you think I was going to admit to it?).  I know, it doesn’t seem like a lot to you, but it reinforces everything that I’ve been doing is helping.  My goal for the end of the year?  Come in at 4 years lower than my real age.  Stay tuned to see if I get there.

My birthday has always been a non-event in my humble opinion and to the consternation of my mother.  Try as she might, it’s never really a big deal for me.  Some people treat their day as a national holiday,  Some have quiet pride in turning another year older.  I, well I am meh about the whole thing.  Maybe it’s because when I was just little Jill, I stayed in Ottawa for the summer with my mother and beloved grandmother while my two older sisters were away at camp so it was a bit of an understated affair.  Or when I was old enough, I too, went to sleep away camp (7 weeks) and my birthday fell halfway through.  No gifts – just a birthday cake that I had to share and the embarrassment of having an entire camp sing happy birthday to me and having to do the hula hop.  Even for an attention loving Leo like me, it was a little much.  When I was home for birthdays, being a summer baby, many of friends were not around.  As I got older, yes it was a bit more fun, but still not something I ever really got excited about.

Now that I’m old enough to be a cougar, I think that the reason that I’m not such a fan is because the gifts that I really want can’t be bought – you see, they are intangible.  As nice as a prezzie is, I’d rather have an hour to talk to my wonderful grandmother who died when I was 17 to see if she’d be proud of me.  I’d want my mother to have years of good health and physical energy to match her mental energy.  I’d want to know that my sisters are content in their lives.  Maybe to know that a beloved niece and nephew feel confident in who they are.  To have a cousin who is more like one of my closest friends  see once, not twice (he knows what I mean).  You know – the things that money just can’t buy.

And yes, I do know that I have a lot to be grateful for – I have had a pretty good life so far and it’s only half-way done.

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Anchor’s Away On Stress

anchors away

I love when I don’t have to credit images – it removes some of the stress from blogging.  This pic is from my latest trip – and I can tell you that there is nothing stressful about being on a cruise.  Dr. Oz has explained in many ways the negative impact that stress can have on your body leading to the dreaded inflammation, ultimately causing many things even worse than that.  I was under a lot of stress when I went on this vacation and for two weeks, the biggest stress that I had was whether to go for team trivia in the Skyview Lounge or finally join everyone for an art auction on a sea day.  I had people to serve me, bring me fresh towels and tell me where I needed to be at what time.  I’ve never loved the idea of cruises and have only been on 2 in my life.  One was in Alaska and it was the perfect way to experience the Inside Passage, so I highly recommend it. The other, was a Mediterranean cruise and it was nice, but not a great way to see the amazing countries on the itinerary.

This cruise seemed great on paper.  I have been to Iceland before and it gave me the chance to do a few things there to make it feel more complete to me (whale watching, a jeep safari on a vehicle only used in Iceland and seeing more of a pretty little city that I liked).  Who has ever heard of or visited the Faroe Islands?  I’m always a fan of going to little places that no one knows about.  Last but not least, what better way is there to see the fjords of Norway than on a ship? This was an instance where the trip met all of my expectations and gave me exactly what I needed at the exact moment that I needed it.  I needed no stress (check), no blackberry (check), no major decisions (check) and every day to be different (check, check check).  I loved every place that I visited (although I love every place that I go to).

While I was away, I’d love to tell you that I followed everything that I’ve learned on the yellow brick road to good health.  I didn’t.  I ate what I wanted, I lazed around on sea days getting out of bad late and going to bed at different times.  I exercised a little – I forced myself to walk on the walking track on one of the rare sunny days, my cousin and I walked a few kilometres (many uphill) in Akureyri, Iceland to see more of the city and almost our whole group did a pretty long hike to a glacier in Norway (see me getting soaked below). 

norway hike


I ate nuts infrequently and carbs became my BFF again.  Yet somehow, other than stomach pain from all of the food that didn’t agree with me, I felt better than I can remember.  My brain wasn’t foggy, my heart wasn’t racing and I didn’t feel any pressure to be somewhere.  So what did I owe this sense of well-being to?  The fact that between not having any responsibilities and taking almost a complete cyber-break, for once in my life, I felt stress free.  It was delightful and important.  It shouldn’t take a vacation to feel this way, but at least for me it does.  If I can give you some advice (not from Oz, but from me) when taking a holiday:

-Eat whatever you want.  Yes, I gained 3.5 pounds, but in less than a week, they are a distant memory and I got to enjoy my holiday without feeling deprived while the people around me ate whatever they wanted. You aren’t going to be on your death bed thinking, if only I had one more carrot stick, but you might regret not having tried the chocolate souffle on your trip or something that you can only get in that particular locale

-Take a cyber-break – believe me, if there if big news, you will hear it.  Stay in touch with loved ones on occasion, but it’s called a vacation for a reason.  I thought I would be in a panic being so disconnected but instead, I felt relaxed in a way that I haven’t in years.  It helped that WiFi on the ship was a nightmare

-Don’t let weather put a damper on your trip.  You can’t control the weather, so embrace it, and have a good time.  Think of rain and fog as atmosphere.  I had to on this trip

-Allow yourself to relax.  I thought I’d spend time staring out at the ocean, pondering my life.  I’m just not that deep (pun intended), so I started out hoping to see a whale or a dolphin.  Didn’t see either (sigh).  A vacation is about going back to your childhood for a few days when things were easier and there were people to feed you and pick up after you.  Embrace it

-Don’t expect it to be like home.  If you want the creature comforts of home, then take a stay-cation.  Travelling is amazing, but it can be a bit of a culture shock if you don’t like that sort of thing

-Try everything from activity to food and participate in the ridiculous.  I had my nose painted blue and kissed a fish to celebrate crossing the Arctic Circle.  It was fun – and didn’t kill me, and I now have that silly memory (including almost falling on a fake Viking during a photo) to remember that milestone forever

Today, I am grateful that I could de-stress and enjoy one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. 

Gratefully yours,



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“B” Revitalized and Cruising the High Seas



Image courtesy of me!

Travel is my greatest passion.  Check out the picture that I took in Norway to see why.  Even though I don’t consider myself nature girl, I was in awe of the scenery on my recent cruise to Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway.  Like most travelers, I do suffer from jet lag.  It’s usually only really bad the first day or two when I get to my destination, and for a day or two when I get back.  I’ve been back for 3 days and I’m starting to get back to normal. I checked the Dr. Oz website for some ideas (I should have done this before leaving for my trip D’OH).  Here are some suggestions:

  • “Some research has shown that taking a good amount of stress-busting vitamins like B complex a couple days before the trip, during, and a few days afterwards can help your body cope with the stress of long-distance travel. Consider taking supplements or eat foods that are high in B-vitamins, like broccoli, beets, bananas, strawberries, eggs, brewer’s yeast, and mung beans. Also choose nuts, fish, and other foods that are high in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps relax the nervous system.”  I’ve been taking Vitamin B pretty regularly – other than broccoli, some fish and nuts, I wasn’t able to eat (or wouldn’t eat some of the foods listed.  Mung beans sound like a weird type of beetle to me, and they didn’t really have a ton of bananas, strawberries, etc. available.  I did bounce back pretty quickly though so maybe the B supplement helped
  • “Make sure that you are exposed to plenty of natural light.”  Covered through the almost 24 hours of daylight in the North Atlantic countries that I visited.
  • “Maintain physical activity before, during, and following your trip.” I could have done more, but we did a couple of long walks and a 2 hour hike on the trip.  I walk a lot on a regular basis and I’m heading back to my trainer tomorrow!

My best tip?  Try to tough it out when you get to your destination and stay up as late as you can. I did fall asleep during the entertainment on night one on the boat, and typical for me, a stand up comedian was the featured act.  Guess who caught me catching so shut eye during his monologue.  If you guessed me, you are a smarty-pants.  Thank goodness, like any good Leo, I love being the center of attention.

Now that I am back, I have the chance to say that I am grateful for the wonderful trip that I got to go on with great company including my sister, my  cousins and my frousins (yes that means you AK and your sister GK).  You’ll be hearing a bit more about my trip until August since this month’s theme is vacations.

Until next time, I am still…

Gratefully yours,




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Back To The Grind

Just a quick entry to say that I’m back – I had a fabulous time but am a bit jet-lagged. I went to work today and it again reminded me that what I love the most about a holiday is the fact that every day is different. I’ll be looking into Dr. Oz’s suggestions to combat jet lag and let you know if he has any cures.

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Leaving on a Jet Plane

No pretty pictures in my post today – I want to wow you when I come back from my trip in two weeks. Preparing for a trip is the worst. I spent all of Tuesday packing so that I wouldn’t have to rush around today. All I have to do is pack my shampoo, a hairbrush and my hair clip (I don’t leave home or blow dry my hair without it), my probiotics and I can zip up my overweight suitcase. I’m getting old – I used to save packing until the last minute. I stayed at work until ten last night trying to get as many things off my plate as possible so that I could focus on what really needed to get done at work today. I already told you about my fear of flying, add to that my fear that the car won’t be waiting at the airport in London to take us to the cruise ship and you have a Type A’s perfect storm of things that are beyond their control. Luckily, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t even through about my seasickness, or rather if I will have any. I’m the type who practically throws up on the escalator at the Eaton Centre (Toronto’s biggest mall). #firstworldproblems!

While I’m away, I know it may be a struggle to be as compliant with my Oz ways as I am at home, so I thought that I would do a quick scan of his site for inspiration. Here is a quote from one of doctoroz.com’s guest experts – “It can be hard when we’re on vacation to stick with healthy guidelines but doing so will mean less inflammation, lower cholesterol and higher intake of important essential vitamins and minerals. Next time you take the time to plan vacation, focus on healthy eating as well.” So inflammation again…luckily, I’ve packed all of my supplements and the plan isn’t to eat myself into oblivion. It’s to enjoy myself and to do things outside of what I would do in my everyday life like go on a RIB boat excursion (very fast little boat). It’s seeing things that I normally wouldn’t get to see. It’s having a few weeks of having every day be different. That’s the thing that I love the most about travel – it’s the unexpected, and yes even the unplanned moments that make a trip special.

I understand that many people don’t love to travel. They don’t love the unexpected and they miss the creature comforts of home. As I get older, I’m less attached to things (expect my purses – I really love my purses) unless they are sentimental, and more attached to people. As much as I’ll miss my friends and family, I can truly say, I’ve never needed a holiday more, and I am truly grateful that I can treat myself to something that I love doing once or twice or three times a year.

Until I return, I am still…

Gratefully yours,


July = Vacation


It’s the start of a brand new month and that means a new topic.  Since I’m going on holidays (cruise to Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway), I decided to make the topic this month all about vacations.  This is also your warning that on July 4th, I have to take a cyber break – WIFI is a fortune on the cruise ship, so for two weeks, I won’t be able to blog.  Fear not, as soon as I get back, I’ll be back to writing.  I think to follow Oz’s advice about stress, taking a cyber break (just buying a package so that I can email home) is just what the doctor ordered.  I realized that I’ve taken exactly one holiday day this year (April 15th to celebrate my mother’s big birthday).  I’m feeling burned out and need to do the one thing that is guaranteed to make me excited about life again – travel!

Today is about one of the first steps of taking a trip – and it’s not packing.  It’s flying.  Why am I writing about a little cruise on a 767?  Well, I’m TERRIFIED of flying – no matter how many times I’ve flown the friendly skies – I feel like crying the minute I step on the air craft.  It’s one of my two phobias (bugs if you don’t remember are the other) and no matter how much I tell myself that I’m more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash, it still doesn’t reassure me.  I have my routine – I get to my seat on the plane, I tap the floor three times to make sure it feels solid (silly I know).  I pull out a People magazine and as the plane takes off, I try to distract myself by doing the crossword puzzle.  I forgot the most important part – I take two of the ten Ativan pills that I allow myself every year (I get a prescription for ten pills a year to cover off all of my travel).  It calms me down so that if there is turbulence, I don’t really care.  My biggest fear is take off – I hate when the plane slowly taxis to the runway.  A feeling of dread comes over me because I know what’s next – 100,000 tonnes of steel, people and luggage racing down the runway and then the lift off where the plane banks right or left, or both as it levels off to go to the end destination.

Many people LOVE flying and think that the take off is the best thing ever – for me, it’s a frightening, yet necessary evil.  I don’t want to recommend Ativan, but it’s the only thing that’s worked to make air travel bearable.  I don’t always sleep from it, but it allows me the calm that I need to at least read a magazine or watch a movie.  I’d rather not take anything so I checked to see if Dr. Oz had any suggestions, and I found some tips on Sharecare.com from Jill Grimes, MD (the site is partly owned by Oz – my comments are in bold):

  • Plan ahead — create a diversion packet for yourself with an engaging book, music, or DVD. OK thanks – that’s what people magazine is for – plus listening to music helps.
  • Get noise-canceling headphones (or at least good earplugs). It’s amazing how when you can close your eyes and not hear the plane noises, you can relax much more easily. I’m not afraid of noises – I’m afraid of crashing
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine and decongestants — no need to ramp up your heart rate before you even get on the plane. True for coffee – I’ll avoid it – I no longer drink Diet Coke, so that’s not a problem.  Tea does make me feel calmer though
  • If you have the luxury of time before you travel, consider biofeedback, hypnosis, or meditation training. Maybe I’ll try hypnosis – I don’t think meditation will help me since I can barely do it
  • You may want to talk with your doctor. What can he or she offer? For long flights, your doctor may prescribe a sleeping pill. Some patients do very well with medicines that simply control your heart rate, such as metoprolol (a beta-blocker). Others with more intense anxiety respond well to a rapid and short-acting sedative. Ativan has been a huge help for me, but I’ve actually decided to only take it for long haul flights.  I really recommend talking to your doctor and being really sure that this is your last resort.  

I wish I could say that there is an easy cure for a phobia, but for me, there hasn’t been.  I am open  to trying hypnosis though.  I’ll let you know if I ever do it.  Maybe I’ll even blog about it.

Today is July 1st – Canada’s birthday!  I am proud and grateful to live in such an amazing country.  I’m a third generation Canadian and I don’t identify myself by my grandparents’ homeland.  They escaped from Russia and Lithuania so I only bring it up if people ask me about my background.  They knew and appreciated living in a country where they could make a life for themselves and enjoy religious freedom.  I’m not saying it was perfect for them, but with every generation, it gets better.  We had World Pride in Toronto last week, and people came from all over the world without incident and even capping the festivities with a real rainbow.  I may be straight, but I fully support and am proud that Toronto hosted this amazing event.  Canada, for the most embraces and accepts everyone – and for that I am grateful. There is always room for improvement, but today, I’d just like to be grateful that I live in the best country in the world.  

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26 Weeks and Counting – What A Burn

It’s official – my journey down the yellow brick road to good health is half-way over, or at least my experiment in taking Dr. Oz’s advice. It has been an enlightening first half.  I’ve learned things that I never would have given a second thought to, I’ve made changes that have made a big difference in how I feel and I’ve tried things that I never thought I ever would be interested in.  The latest thing that I’ve tried, admittedly on the advice of my dermatologist, has been a chemical peel.  He recommended that I get three of them to help with my annoying acne problem.  I had my first last Friday.  It all starts off in a very relaxing manner.  You have a traditional facial first including a scrub, steam and extraction (which I love).  The main event was next.  A 70% glycolic acid solution was applied to my face from the forehead down.  The reason they start with the forehead is because it can tolerate the acid for the longest period of time.  The acid stays on your skin for about 2 minutes and feels like your face is getting a sunburn.  Once the two minutes were up, I had to wash my face with lots of water twice. I then had a calming cream applied, followed by sunscreen.  So what were the results?

My skin was red and blotchy and looked really oily from the cream.  I was warned that my skin would “crust” in parts and to use Polysporin or petroleum jelly on it.  I ended up breaking out, but only one zit has really had any staying power.  My skin feels softer, but I haven’t seem anything amazing – yet.  According to Dr, Oz, “You’ll see the results of a superficial chemical peel when your skin heals, generally within two to three weeks.”  I’ll wait patiently and keep you posted.  My next peel is scheduled for the end of July.  If your doctor recommends a chemical peel, follow their instructions.  This includes wearing sunscreen since your skin will be pretty sensitive for a few days.  I hope it makes some sort of a difference.

So, what is the most important thing that I’ve learned in this half year?  I’d say that I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.  I also think mindfulness is crucial.  I think more about my health when I make a decision.  I try to stick with the things that make me feel better – it isn’t always easy, but I’m doing my best and isn’t that all we can really ask ourselves for?  I could list everything that I’ve keep up – ok – I will:

  1. Probiotics every morning – I really think these have made a huge change in how my tummy feels
  2. Prebiotics where possible to super-charge my probiotics.  This includes eating at least half of a banana most mornings or no longer avoiding onions
  3. Watching what I eat to avoid inflammation and to feel better.  I’m not perfect.  I’ve lost around 18 pounds, but 80% of the time, I’m on the money and I do feel better.  I’ve starting following Dr. Oz’s 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Plan once a month, not to lose weight, but because, overall, eating that way makes me feel better.  It’s totally not sustainable, so I eat the DASH way, the other 2 weeks with occasional cheats.  
  4. Researching what I put in my mouth – this means being a bit more critical about certain pieces of Oz sanctioned advice (coconut oil ring a bell?).
  5. Eating nuts – really, they help with sleep – I’m convinced of it.
  6. Sleeping in a cool room.  I do sleep better, not perfectly, but better.
  7. Meditating – I didn’t love the actual practice – just Deepak Chopra’s teachings, and if trying more meditation means that I get to benefit from someone much wiser than me, well, practice makes perfect.
  8. No shampoo faux-hawks.  Being more careful when I wash my hair has meant fewer tangles and fewer split ends.
  9. Zinc supplements – I still take these daily – I’m not sure if they’ve helped my skin, but I have to say that my immunity is better.
  10. Getting a mammogram – this was really important for me since breast cancer runs in my family.  Yes, it wasn’t pleasant, but early detection is worth the 5 minutes of discomfort that I suffered and it literally was 5 minutes for all of you chickens out there.
  11. Dandelion tea – I hate this – it tastes like dirt.  It can’t all be good news : )

There have been many more changes that I have made – mostly small ones, but eleven seems to be a nice round number or at the very least, two straight up and down ones.  I hope the next 6 months are as beneficial as the first 6 have been.  I know that Dr. Oz has detractors, and some of this is deserved, but he also provides a lot of really beneficial advice, so today, I’m grateful for my favourite TV doctor and to all of you for following me or reading my blog.  I struggled a bit in June with a demanding work schedule, but I won’t let that stop me from completing this experiment.  I’ll be revealing a new topic in my next entry – something really fun for me.  Until then, I am…

Gratefully yours,