The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

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A Eulogy And More


One day, I was rolling my eyes at my mother as she said something completely inappropriate.  I told her that just because she is older doesn’t mean that she can say everything that she thinks.  She corrected me immediately, and said, “Oh Jill, that’s where you are wrong.  I don’t just say everything I think, I say everything that I feel, and I feel a lot.”  At the time, I laughed, because in true Mummy fashion, it was a pretty funny statement, and she had a little evil gleam in her eye – the one that she got when she thought that she was getting away with something.  Well, Mummy, I feel a lot too.  I feel happy that you were my mother, but so sad that you aren’t here with me right now.  Not quite two weeks ago, on March 3, my mother died.  I’m lucky to have so many memories, but as some of you know, losing a loved one is hard.  Over the next little bit, you are going to be hearing more about her, and the process of putting it all back together again. I thought I’d start with my Eulogy for her:

Karl Geurs and Carter Crocker once wrote: “If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.” That tomorrow came sooner than we all hoped but this quote described to me everything that I’ve ever needed to know about our wonderful mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, cousin and friend, Judy.

Mummy – you are the bravest person in the world.  Forgive me, I can’t use the past tense just yet.  It’s too soon to think of a world without you.  You re-started your life, moving to Toronto, making an entirely new network of friends through bridge and pottery.  You tried new things, you were open to living a new life and you kept your old friends in the process.  You did things on your own and never complained.  You faced the deaths of so many people that you loved, including your parents, our beloved grandparents, Nathan and Sara Zelikovitz, your aunts and uncles and cousins that you were so close to.  You continued to fight throughout your illnesses surprising even the doctors with your determination and moxie.  You constantly surprised everyone else, including me with your chutzpah and hilarity.  You are the only person that I know that could be bribed by fudge and jelly beans.

At under 5 feet tall, you never looked like you could take on the world, but you are definitely the strongest person that I’ve ever met.  You suffered more than you ever should have with the pain and fatigue from cancer – especially near the end.  You bounced back after not just one, but two heart attacks.  Your other issues could fill a medical journal, yet you so rarely complained.  We used to joke around with each other about your illnesses – either calling you a disease of the week movie or telling you that I never knew which charity walk to do for you, Heart and Stroke, Breast Cancer, Diabetes or Gout.  You would always say – do the walk for gout – no one ever does that one because it hurts so damn much that no one can walk.    You are such a survivor that I called you a cockroach, saying that you, and only you could survive a nuclear war.  I asked you once “Mummy, how do you do it?” and you said “How do I do what?” and I said “Survive” and I’ll never forget your answer.  “Because, I want to live”.  And live you did.

You lived a big life.  You had many friends; a close family and so many of us loved and admired you.  You had a curious nature, a wicked sense of humour, a bratty disposition, but you were the most caring person.  You worried about everyone when the weather was poor.  A drop of rain on the ground was the only thing, aside from mice that you ever seemed to fear.  Not for yourself, but for your children.  I always got a frantic call from you warning me of the rain or snow.  I had to reassure you that I had a coat and umbrella with me but unless I was at home, you were still fearful that sweet little me would melt.  You were modern in thought and always told us that women could do anything that men could do (except maybe open a jar and kill a spider).   You cared for and sacrificed for us and we won’t forget that.

I hope that we can all be as brave as you are Mummy.  When you lose your mother, you feel so alone in the world.  That person, the only person in some cases, that knows your history is lost to you forever.  I know that you’d want us to go on, and live and stay strong, and we will, but it’s going to be so hard without your love and guidance which brings me to the fact that you are smarter than you think.  You are brilliant Mummy – although you have the worst sense of direction.  You were forever lost, turning the wrong way; never understanding east, west north and south.  You always wanted us to tell you right and left, and then you’d just turn in whatever direction you felt like going, which was always the wrong one.  You were gifted in every other way though.

You weren’t just quick-witted; you were smart in a way that many of us just are not.  You read people and situations.  You predicted outcomes.  You were world-wise, but not world-weary. You were an artist – yes I admit it.  Your pottery wasn’t flawed, maybe just a little tilted in some cases, but it really is art.  You made jewelry, needlepointed and were an amazing cook.  You weren’t just a giver of advice (whether I wanted it or not), you were my financial advisor, my doctor, my home economics teacher, my lawyer and my everything.  We all don’t know what we are going to do without your wisdom.  I’m guessing that we’ll pick up the phone to ask you a question and realize that thanks to you, we may already know the answer after our heart breaks a little knowing that you won’t be at the other end of the call.

Mummy – you will be missed by all of us more than you will ever know.  I hope that you knew how much you are loved, admired and respected.  You are without a doubt, the person that I look up to the most in the world.  We were all so lucky to have you in our lives.  Your doctors once said to you that the goal for you was to live the best life that you can, for as long as you can, and that you did.  I’d like to say that cancer didn’t beat you – you beat cancer.  Cancer never robbed you of who you are as a person.  You were always, thankfully still your brave, strong, smart self.  You were the brat that made us all laugh and the loving person that is making all of your friends and family cry right now.

To close, a quote by AA Milne that perfectly sums up how I’m feeling today – “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  How lucky indeed, Mummy.  I love you, good-bye for now.



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London, Can You Wait? A Peak into An Author’s Life And Writing

London Can You Wait

Image courtesy of Jacquelyn Middleton

Award winning self-published author, Jacquelyn Middleton recently published her second book, “London, Can You Wait?”.  It’s a sequel to her hit contemporary romance, “London Belongs to Me.”  As much as Middleton may be a fan girl with certain movie and TV stars, that’s how this avid reader feels about authors.  Even though I know Jackie, I still fan-girled a little when I got to speak with her about her latest release and what it was like to be a self-published author.  I think that if you are someone who has written, published and promoted a book on your own, that too is a love story all of it’s own.  It’s so much work, and there is so much of yourself invested in the process.  Middleton is proof that if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen.


Image Courtesy of Jacquelyn Middleton

1) Why write a sequel?

I really missed the characters and selfishly, wanted hang out with them a little bit more. I also received so many requests from readers wanting to know what happens next, so I thought, why not? London, Can You Wait? is technically a sequel, but it can be read as a standalone.

2) Will this be a series?

As of right now, London Belongs to Me and London, Can You Wait? will remain a duology. I’m currently writing my third book and while it’s not a sequel to my London books, it does follow the same time line and takes place in the same world, so characters from the other books may be known by the new characters and may appear. Which ones? I’m not saying! It also takes place in New York City, so it’s fun to explore one of my other favourite cities in a literary sense. I did toy with writing a third London Belongs book because I was so sad when I finished writing London, Can You Wait?—it was like losing a bunch of friends—but I didn’t want to ruin a book thing. Sometimes, no matter how much fun you had, it’s time to leave the party.

3) What was the process like writing your second book versus your first?

 I feel like London, Can You Wait? is a more complex book than London Belongs to Me.  There are more layers, there are flashbacks, which I’ve never written before and I must admit it challenged me, but I ended up loving it! The flashbacks were easy to write and I think that’s down to knowing the characters so well.
The research process was basically the same. I like to make my settings as real as possible so I visited the places I featured in the books. It definitely helps that I love London and these places were settings I’d be visiting anyway! But there were a few new places I found while doing online research and then I followed up with an in-person visit before the book went to the editor just to make sure I had all the details right.  With my first book, I spent a ton of time at the National Theatre which is a major setting. There are lots of little corners, stairwells, cafes, great areas for scenes. I sat in Alex’s writing spot to understand what she would see and hear. I also had been to all the theatres mentioned, spent weekends out at London Fields, and literally walked (or drove) following the paths of my characters. When I’m trying to figure out where a character will live, I check real estate listings—that’s how I learned about an amazing apartment near Tower Bridge, Lucy’s flat, and all the other locales.
As for writing, I tend to do rewrites of previous chapters in the morning and then in the afternoon, right ahead into the story. I know that goes against what many writers do. Many get their first draft down and then go back and edit, but I don’t work that way. I have trouble moving ahead if I haven’t cleaned up issues that are nagging at me earlier on. Writing both books became easier the further I went in the process. I think you learn more about the characters as you go and it makes it easier to know how they’ll react, what they’ll say. It’s fun.

4) What was it like to market the first book on your own?

It was a lot of work, but it was also nice to have control over everything!  Between my husband Darren and I, we updated the website, sent out books and bookmarks, and worked with bloggers, BookTubers, and Instagram’s “Bookstagram” community to get the word out.  I love giveaways and do a lot of them as a way to reach out to readers and give something back. All our hard work was worth it. Within its first year, London Belongs to Me sold several thousand copies, which is huge for an independent author’s debut.  People from all over the world—Japan, Puerto Rico, Columbia, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Mexico—have read London Belongs to Me and it’s still selling, which makes me very happy, and most of those readers are continuing Alex and Mark’s journey with London, Can You Wait?—it’s so wonderful to see.

5) What do you attribute the success of your books to?

I think the covers pull people in. People love them and so do I. They’re stunning. That’s one of the great things about being an indie, you can create your own covers (traditionally published authors don’t have much, if any, say in their covers). Darren and I worked together on both covers. I found photos I loved and he did all the magic with licencing and photoshop, and the work paid off—there have been over 300 photos posted on Instagram and that number keeps growing weekly. Once people bought the books and went beyond the covers, I think they loved Alex’s story. Who doesn’t like a fish out of water story about an underdog and her friends—with a swoony, angsty romance? With London, Can You Wait? you also learn much more about Mark and his family as well as Lucy, Freddie and the gang. People who love the books really love them and their word of mouth and wonderful reviews have been so helpful. I also received rave reviews from Kirkus Reviews and RT Book Reviews which gave the industry’s thumbs up which is always amazing to have.

6) Which book release was more nerve-wracking?

London, Can You Wait? for sure.  With the first book, it was a personal challenge—write a book and publish it, see if I could do it. The process was fun and there really wasn’t any pressure. No readers knew me, I didn’t have people to please. With my second book, I had new personal pressure to make London, Can You Wait? even better than London Belongs to Me. I learned so much writing London Belongs to Me—what worked, what didn’t, what to change for next time—I think my second book was all the better for it. Plus, with my second book, I had readers waiting and there was pressure (from myself) to give them something they would enjoy.

7) I know that you are writing a third book.  Do you feel more confident as a writer now?

Yes and no.  I write for myself first.  If I’m happy with what I’m writing, I hope that someone else will enjoy it too.  None of my books are perfect, but I know that I’m evolving in the right direction.  A good review, like one I received on Kirkus, is wonderful validation, but ultimately, I have to be happy with the book first or I’m not going to put it out there.  I do think that London, Can You Wait? is better written than London Belongs to Me, but I love them both so much.

8) How much attention do you pay to negative reviews?

I have learned that if I read a bad review, it ruins me for writing that day, so I don’t read them anymore. My books have received more positive reviews than negative ones, but you can see tons of good reviews and you’ll still focus on the bad one. It’s human nature.  I have spoken to really successful authors for my Authors Celebrating Authors feature on my website and they have told me the same thing. They avoid reading reviews too, or have someone else look at them and then report back!

9) How much editing was involved in “London, Can You Wait?”

I had more beta readers for London, Can You Wait? and I hired a professional editor who polished it all up. I only did one or two rounds of edits. It didn’t take too long at all.

10) Back to the book… You received a lot of positive feedback on your heroine, Alex Sinclair’s anxiety and making it such an important part of the plot.  As an author, how does it feel to make such a big impact on people?

I like that my books are making it easier for people to talk about anxiety and panic attacks. I have had readers email me and say that my books helped them realize they weren’t alone and it’s okay to have anxiety, that they shouldn’t be ashamed. As an anxiety sufferer myself, that’s been the best thing about publishing Alex’s story. In many ways, parts of Alex’s story are my story especially with the anxiety arc. When I started writing, I really wanted to put a spotlight on anxiety and panic attacks, and try in a small way to break down the stigma that they have. Too often, people think anyone with a mental illness is weak, and that’s just not the case. Alex is actually a very strong, brave gal. She’s not weak because she has anxiety—her strength actually stems from it and all she has had to go through, and I hope her journey will help more people realize it’s okay to be open about mental health. We need to talk about it, share our experiences, and inform people who are ignorant about mental health. I’m so proud of Alex and who she has become. If she were real, I’d give her a huge hug.

11) How do you think that the characters grew in book two versus where they were in book one, or did their flaws continue to be an issue?

Characters must change or the book will be a bore, and my characters change a lot in London, Can You Wait?.  It kicks off a year after London Belongs to Me, so the characters have already changed somewhat before you even start the first page. When I think back to my early twenties, there was so much growth and change at that age. All the characters have grown up a bit. They still love their fandoms but they also have jobs, relationships, and are trying to find their independence. I think their romantic attachments are more grown up too (this is my way of saving London, Can You Wait? is racier than London Belongs to Me!).

12) What does success look like for you for this book?
I hope more people fall in love with Alex and Mark. To me, that’s success, to reach more readers and have them enjoy my books. I also want to continue the anxiety, panic attack, mental health dialogue and London, Can You Wait? has been celebrated for that arc, so in that way, the book has already been successful. It’s getting that message out and I couldn’t be happier.

13) Give my readers your top picks for British snacks and candy?

  1. Cadbury Chocolate Buttons
  2. Cheese and Onion Crisps
  3. Jaffa Cakes
  4. Percy Pigs
  5. Pickled Onion Monster Munch

14) Cast the movie of this book!

I know who I would cast, but I never share that info! I want readers to cast the books themselves and I would hate to interfere with who they envision as the characters.

You can buy Jacquelyn Middleton’s book in-store (Indigo) or online and,,,,


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Happy New Year & Looking Back


I wish some days, that I could hide out in my Snuggie

Every year, I used to diligently write out my New Year’s Resolutions.  Some years, the list was long, and other years, I decided to take it easy on myself and just put one or two items.  One thing is always the same, on December 31, I take a look at what I wrote the year before to see how close I came to whatever my goals were.  I took a look today, and interestingly, I only wrote 3 things last year and only one could truly be considered a resolution: 1) 2017 will be a year of change, 2) Change jobs (that’s all I wrote for that) and 3) Year of Yes.

The last sentence simply meant that I had to say yes to everything.  Every time someone asked me to do something, I had to say yes, unless there was an excellent reason not to.  I love trying new things and sometimes, it’s just about saying yes to an opportunity.  That’s something that will be a lifelong goal for me – no is only permitted for things that are unhealthy, plain gross or criminal (no using crack, eating boogers or jumping out of a plane without a parachute), no meat (except chicken or fish – I can’t bear to) or no if there is a more urgent manner.  Other than that, nothing is off the table.

The second statement, or the only resolution in the small list, change jobs, did happen.  Along with that came a sense of work/life balance that I’ve never had.  I now have the time to do things, be places, run errands and see my friends and family.  Things that were once ignored are now seen.  When I walk down the street, my head isn’t in my iPhone so that I can just answer one more email.  I see things that were always there that I have never noticed before.  Gone are the deep, dark circles that had a permanent residence under my eyes.  I’m more present when I’m with people, and can actually pay attention to them without constantly checking my emails.  I never have that harried, pressured feeling that I used to have, and that’s good for my health too.  Unemployment was short – ten weeks – but, thoroughly enjoyable.  It was busy in a way that I wasn’t expecting, but I did have time to take a course, meet up with friends and catch up on some life things that I had been putting off.  I’ve always had the need to experience things and unemployment, weirdly, was something that I wanted to try out.

Last, but not least, the white elephant in the room – 2017 will be a year of change.  I weirdly felt this last New Year’s Eve.  Other than just the job, there have been sweeping changes that have mostly been out of my control and that some days felt like they may break my heart.  When illness falls on people you love, in many ways, it hurts more deeply and profoundly than when it happens to you.  When you are the patient, in many ways, you are steering your ship.  What you do can help or hurt you.  You know exactly how you feel and what you wish people would do for you.

When you are the observer and sometime care giver, it’s a different case.  You have to learn everything without a manual.  You become adept at things that you probably never wanted to learn.  You have to accept things for what they are, and give yourself time to get to the point of acceptance.  Like the patient, your life changes in ways that you never wanted, but unlike the patient, you have to step aside and realize that you aren’t the important person in the equation – you are a support system that needs to learn how to take care of yourself while putting yourself second.  You have to be optimistic enough to know that there will be days that are good, and prepared to know that there will be some days that will be very, very bad where you feel helpless or even worse, hopeless, only to bounce back again. Sometimes knowing that you will feel happy again, you will laugh again and you will get through the worst days does help.  So does knowing that you have people that care and support you.

The most important lesson that I’ve learned this year and that I will carry with me forever, is that people don’t always know how important that they are to you.  I’ve never been the best at telling people how much they mean to me.  I force myself at times, but in general, I don’t do it often enough.  It’s so cliche, but you never know what can happen in life and how important of a message this is for someone to hear.  I’m going to be kind to myself this year and not bog myself down with too many resolutions, but one thing that I will try to be better at is letting people know what they mean to me and be there for them if they need a shoulder to cry on.  Some days, the support that I received was beyond what I was expecting, and I’m very grateful.

Whether I know you or you just drop by to read my little blog, I’m wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy 2018!




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London Can You Wait – A Review

London Can You Wait

Image courtesy of

Many of you who know me, or have read my blog know that I’m an avid reader.  I’m currently trying to read 50 books this year, but I think I’m going to have to settle for 40 – I’m only on number 37 now.  Aim high and manage your expectations I say.  I looked back at the books that I’ve read this year, and let’s just say that my tastes run a little to the depressing/critically acclaimed side of the bookstore.  Books read include “First They Killed My Father”, “The Cellist of Sarajevo”, “House of Sand and Fog”, “Girl With the Pearl Earring” and “The Colour of Our Sky”.  All excellent, but the common thread is that although some may have uplifting moments, generally speaking, they aren’t the happiest books that I’ve ever read.  You wouldn’t catch me smiling to myself as I flipped the pages of these tomes on the subway.  That is why I was grateful to find out that my friend, author Jacquelyn Middleton was publishing a sequel to her popular book “London Belongs to Me”.

“London, Can You Wait?” was a breath of fresh air.  Sometimes, in life, things get heavy, and you need something to escape to and that’s exactly what this was for me.  The follow up novel picks up a year after the end of her first book with her heroine Alex and her boyfriend Mark together and enjoying their relationship.  It was a very different book from “London Belongs to Me”.  Her first novel was great – you can read my review here  That book could very well be classified as Young Adult, but “London, Can You Wait?” takes a decidedly more adult spin on the tale of its two main characters.  We aren’t talking “50 Shades of Grey”, but I would say it was at least 5 shades of baby blue.

It’s definitely chick lit, but there is a part of the tale that is true to the original book – Alex suffers from panic attacks, and this makes the book a stand out from traditional women’s fiction.  It’s a real struggle for her, and it impacts her in various ways in the book.  It is a contributing factor that led to issues in her relationship with Mark, and it plays on her confidence making it relatable to people who suffer for panic attacks, and bringing a greater understanding to people like me who don’t have them.  It also explains how Alex deals with things and instead of feeling frustrated with her inaction at times, you get insight into why she makes the decisions that she does.

All of the likeable supporting characters from the first book are back and you learn more about their back stories.  You also hear more about Mark, her boyfriend in this book and understand his motivations.  I’m not going to spoil the story and tell you any other details, you can find those on other sites, or novel idea (pun intended), buy the book.  I will say that although some of the story rang a little untrue, like when Alex expects her actor boyfriend to cut back on acting roles abroad (as if), but, the drama is more than enough to capture and keep your attention.  You also don’t get as much of the touristy stuff that made book one so readable for me, but that makes sense since Alex is a resident of London now so she doesn’t have that new to the city mentality.  What you do get is an enjoyable read that feels more sophisticated than the original (although I really liked that book too).  Middleton has another success on her hands.  I plowed through the book in 3 days – c’mon, I have a job – and could have finished it in an afternoon if I had the time.  Congratulations Jackie – you have a winning formula.

You can buy this book from Indigo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo and more by clicking here  It can be read as a standalone, but you really should read “London Belongs to Me” to get the most out of the story.  Please don’t buy the book from pirated sites – the author doesn’t receive any royalties, and Jacquelyn Middleton poured her heart into this.  Stay tuned for my interview with her in the upcoming weeks.


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Being Different in A Trump Sort of World

I never realized that I was different from most kids my age until I was at least 4.  Sure, around Christmas time, I wondered why we didn’t have lights or decorations.  My mother just said that we celebrate Chanukah (yes, it really does have a Ch).  I also wondered why Santa didn’t visit us, and she told me that we had a special dot on our door that told Santa not to deliver gifts to our house.  Being gullible, I looked for that stupid dot long after I realized that Santa wasn’t real.  I never did find it.  Just another little disappointment that I’ve had to learn to live with.  Anyway, I was born in Montreal and raised in Sydney, a small city in Nova Scotia.  Being Jewish wasn’t the rule, it was the exception.  Once, when I was about 4, I was playing outside and an older boy, or should I say bully,  from around the corner drove his bicycle over my feet.  He did this simply because I was a Jew.  Luckily, I told my older sister and friend Paul what happened and my sister knocked him off of his bike, and Paul jumped on him and pulled his ears until he apologized.

There were other incidents as I was growing up.  One boy kept yelling “Jill is Jewish” in the playground.  I didn’t get too offended, because even though it was meant as a slur, it was just a fact.  A couple of other kids told me that they knew that I was rich because I was Jewish.  I had no idea what my parents had, all that I knew was that I never did get Superstar Barbie because they said that they couldn’t afford it.  My friends were all very respectful though and defended me when bullying came up.  Interestingly, my closest friends in high school were Muslims and Hindus.  None of us cared about what made us different – we grew up in a very similar way.  The most uncomfortable encounters actually were with adults.

My neighbour, who seemed like a perfectly nice man that let me take his dog for a walk when I was walking my own puppy, later became a bit of a terror.  He got fired from the bank when he told a Jewish customer that he wished Hitler had finished all Jews off.  He  held a bit of a grudge.  When I’d walk my dog, there were times that he would follow us around with his car getting a little too close for comfort.  He threatened to “take a stick” to me and my dog if I ever let Rascal on his lawn.  I was 8 years old at the time, and finally realized that there really was something different about me, something that certain people may not like.

My grade 12 English teacher was the second adult that made things uncomfortable for me.  Just my luck, we were reading “The Merchant of Venice” and he felt it necessary to discuss the character of Shylock’s Judaism for longer than necessary.  Some of what he said absolutely was important to the narrative of the play.   Throwing in his opinion that all Jews are rich, that you never see a Jewish cab driver or maintenance person wasn’t.  He directed comments about Jews being doctors mainly, looking right at me (my father was a doctor) when he said it was just a little slice of heaven.  There was more, but he’s not worth any extra time than this.  Again, most kids and teachers were great.  People from the East Coast (of Canada) are very friendly and welcoming.  Most of the time when they’d make comments or ask questions, it was curiosity, not malice.

When I moved to Toronto, I experienced far worse.  Here is a small smattering of things that I rarely have spoken to anyone about:

  • A woman walked up to me walking along the street with a friend, and said “Excuse me, do you think you are in Jew-town?”.  Me, “Pardon?”  thinking that she couldn’t have said that.  The woman retorted, “You heard me” and walked away.
  • A person, not realizing that I was Jewish, joked about my part time job as a cashier at a card store saying that I was playing “the Jewish” piano.
  • Sitting with a group of friends and acquaintances watching TV one day, a skit came on featuring Hasidic Jews.  It was funny, and if you can’t laugh at your own people, who can you laugh at?  One person took it one step too far and he said exactly these words, “I f%$king hate f$#king Jews with their f$#king big noses and f#$king big wallets.”  He went on to say more, but stopped after a minute more of his tirade when the room got very silent.  He turned to me and said, “Your not Jewish, are you?”.   The last words that I ever said to him were “As a matter of fact, I am”.
  • “You are such a nice person Jill, it’s really too bad that you are going to hell because you don’t accept Christ as your saviour.  Sin is sin in God’s eyes.”
  • “Oh, when I said that Jews were obnoxious and horrible, I didn’t mean you Jill, you aren’t like that.  I meant other Jews.”  If I had a dime for every time someone said some form of this to me, I’d have a couple of hundred dollars at least.
  • I’m not religious, but out of guilt (it’s one of the stereotypes of my religion that’s actually true), I go to synagogue twice a year on the High Holidays.  Every time that I go, there is security that has to check my purse before I’m allowed on the premises.  Imagine going to church and needing to have it checked by bomb-sniffing dogs and needing police protection?  That’s our normal.

The list goes on and on, as it probably does for everyone who is a visible or invisible minority.  There have been times when I’ve seen what it’s like for someone else.  I was in Memphis with my friend when we were waiting for a car rental place to open up.  An African American woman came out of a bus with a whole bunch of children who also happened to be African American.  She was distraught, because the store was late opening and they had to be on the road and she wanted to return the keys for a car.  We offered to do it for her, and she looked like she was going to cry.  She explained that it was just such a nice thing to do after she had such a rough day.   Her group was on a high after taking the kids to the National Civil Rights Museum.  When she checked into her hotel, the front desk clerk told her to keep her little (insert the “N” word here) quiet.  It was traumatizing for her to go from the extreme of how far her people had come, to how much further there still was to go.

Another time, I was on a bus, and there was a young-ish black child (maybe 11 or 12) on his own.  A mentally ill woman starting walking up and down the bus shouting derogatory things about black people.  It was awful, and I just wanted to die for this child.  I talked to him and said you know what she saying isn’t true.  She’s mentally ill, right?  He slowly nodded, but it was so heartbreaking.  I just kept talking to him the rest of the bus ride so that he wouldn’t feel so alone.

All of the things that have happened over the course of my life didn’t prepare me for what I saw in Charlottesville.  The march by the Neo-Nazis and KKK sent chills down my spine.  Watching them take over the streets with their tiki-torches and Anti-Semetic signs was a horrible reminder of what it must have been like to be a Jew (or any minority) in Germany in the 1930’s.  The weekend’s festivities where they spouted hate against African Americans and all other minorities was a reminder that there are home grown terrorists in the US (and Canada) too.  They are being enabled by a President that doesn’t understand moral equivalency because he is completely immoral.

Here is what I have to say to the KKK, the Neo-Nazis/Fascists and haters of all kind.  “Jews will not replace us” (coming from a Nazi Germany and Neo-Nazi saying meaning basically that whites will not be replaced with immigrants and non-whites) makes zero sense.  I have no desire to replace a racist, sexist low-life who spends most of their time hiding behind a hood.  What am I supposed to replace you at?  Marketing for the KKK?    I can imagine the campaigns now: “Wearing White after Labour Day – a Klan do”; “Waterproof Eye Liner – How to paint a Swastika on your face without smearing it.”;  “The All White/Alt Right Food Diet”; “17 Different Woods That Are Best for Burning Crosses”.  I could go on, but I won’t, they aren’t worth it.

If you hate people because of their colour, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender/gender orientation or any other reason, you are a loser.  Really, just a big, old loser.  All of the people marching in the streets for “their country” and “their land” should remember that by ancestry, they too are immigrants.  The only Native Americans, are just that, the Native Americans.  You know, the ones whose land your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents took away?  The Confederates lost the Civil War – get over it.  The Nazis lost World War 2 – it’s time to get on the right side of history.  The side that embraces people that are different than you.  The side that Trump seems confused by.  There are no “fine” Neo-Nazis or KKK.  There are fine people that may be white or black or gay or straight or trans or Jewish or Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Native American/First Nations or Chinese or Japanese or South-East Asian or Arabic or even a mix of all of the above.  We need to learn from history so that the devastation of events like the Holocaust never happen again.


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Shark Beach



The brave diver!

Every once in awhile, someone that I know does something so incredible, inspiring and interesting (all of the i’s) that I am compelled to write about it.  Such is my friend, Laura.  Laura is an avid diver, having been on 350 dives since her certification in 1999.  The underwater adventure that you are about to read about is for very experienced  divers only – please note the number of dives that Laura has been on and the years of that she has been doing this.  Most reputable operations require you to have a certain amount of experience anyway.  In other words, don’t be a dummy – if you have never even put a pair of flippers on before, this isn’t for you.  This post has been double checked by Laura for accuracy.

I’ve known Laura for a number of years, starting off as colleagues, then graduating into friends.   Laura is one of the smartest, most positive people that you will come across.  If you are lucky enough to know her, you already understand the extent of her kindness, good will and zest for life.  She is also a very talented seamstress. Everyday, during the time that I worked with her, I’d have to ask if she made the outfit that she was wearing, that’s how good her frocks are! Seriously, she missed her calling – she could have been the Dolce to Gabbana, the Y to YSL, the Coco to Chanel, the Alice to Alice + Olivia –  I think you get the picture.  She gives her all to everything, including her passion for diving.  Being an avid snorkeler, who one day would like to take the plunge (pun intended) and get my SCUBA diving certificate, I always sit in silent rapture whenever Laura tells stories about one of her around this world diving trips.  I’m also fascinated by, and feel protective towards sharks.  Many species, including the giant hammerhead, are slowly going extinct thanks to people over-hunting them for their fins, for sport or to show what a manly man you are.  When people are attacked by a shark, while it’s very sad, it’s a risk that you accept if you want to swim in the ocean.  We are unwelcome visitors in their home.  If you had someone in your home who was unwelcome and that you perceived as a threat, if you attacked them, you can claim self-defense.  A shark doesn’t have that luxury and are often hunted when someone is attacked.  These aren’t malevolent creatures actively hunting humans, they are important predators in the food chain.

Heading into the water

Heading in!

Back to Laura’s fascinating journey.  This particular trip was in the Bahamas, but was a little more of a once (or twice) in a lifetime experience.  I asked Laura all about it, but was so enraptured that I didn’t take notes.  My first question was the rather juvenile – so could you see the sharks when you were diving into the water????  Her response was an of course.  And she still went in!  She also mentioned that during one ascent, a diver had a curious tiger shark nibbling on his flipper.  The likely, calm, but slightly fearful diver pointed this out to the dive master who shrugged his shoulders, not because he didn’t care, but because there is little that he could do, the shark wasn’t hunting humans and he had likely been through it himself a number of times.  Laura was patient and answered all of my questions starting with:

How did you get into diving?  I met my husband in March 1999.  He told me the most amazing stories about his diving experiences, all over the world.  He offered to take me to Palau in February 2000, on the condition that I get certified here, first.  So, I was certified in September 1999.  I still remember my “check-out dive” – where you basically show the instructor that you understand how to put your gear together, can stay underwater without panicking, and remove your mask underwater, and put it back on while underwater (I had the hardest time with this, but in the end, it all went well).  This was in Parry Sound in late September – it was FREEZING.  I thought if this was diving – I’m not so sure…. Not to mention, the wet suit technology was not like today.  I was wearing a 7mm farmer john (2 pieces – thick neoprene painter pants and a second equally thick top with hood – honestly, out of the water, you could barely move – I was convinced this is what an Italian sausage felt like). Wet suits today are SO much more comfortable – thank goodness.


Under the sea

What can you tell me about this particular dive?  Can you share the location and tell us a bit about the trip and what you saw?                                                                     Here is a map – you can see the dive sites (diver flag – red with a diagonal white stripe).  The trip is called Tiger Beach – but honestly, we were told there aren’t always a lot of tigers around tiger beach… We were very lucky to have landed in an area where there were MANY tiger sharks, and lemon sharks, so we stayed there for a bit.  Although the dive site info refers to tiger sharks that were 7 feet long – the ones we encountered were well over 10 ft…we think they were around 15 ft long.  Of particular note, there was a pregnant female – which was so interesting, because there was a distinct thickness around her middle.   We (the divers) simply stayed on the sandy bottom of the dive site, not moving around much, and sharks came closer and closer and started to swim all around us.  Even the most seasoned divers were is awe.  They really are beautiful animals.

Tiger Beach .jpg

Were you, or any of the other divers at all scared or was there a freak out moment?  No – these were all seasoned divers who had been around sharks before.  Everyone was very calm and just in awe and respectful of the sharks.  Jill note: Interestingly, although tiger sharks are more feared, and are thought to be more aggressive, it was actually the lemon sharks that Laura was more wary of.  She and her husband did a short swim away from the group and returned when they were pursued by two lemon sharks.  Nothing happened, but remember, sharks are wild animals and their behavior cannot be predicted.



How many days did you dive and did you get used to being in the water with these particular sharks? 5 – after awhile, you were so used to seeing them, it almost became routine.  Oh, another tiger shark!


Did they give you anything to protect yourself with?  No – the bubbles coming from your tank are actually a small deterrent – the sharks don’t seem to like them.  A pole, used incorrectly, could just anger the shark.  Really, it comes down to staying calm, and that comes with experience as a diver and other encounters with sharks.  If the shark is angry, and wants to attack, there isn’t a lot you can do, but again, it’s very rare and staying calm comes with experience.


So close!

If someone ever wants to consider diving with tiger sharks, what should they know?  They are amazing, graceful creatures and just enjoy every minute of the dive.
If you have any questions for Laura about this experience, or any of her other dives, just let me know and I can do a follow up piece.

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Plop – Revisiting My Take on Goop


The people who know me best know how much Gwyneth Paltrow and I have in common.       I’ve written about my respect for her several times before, indeed citing some of our greatest similarities, minus the size of my wallet of course.  Check these out if you know not of what I speak –  Gwynnie does have it tough, don’t get me wrong.  Just recently, Goop was called out by NASA for spreading misinformation about using NASA technology in healing stickers sold on her site.  She also enraged GOOPIES (get it, like Groupies, only snobbier) at a recent Summit for the brand in NYC.  Not only did many get upset and leave the meeting of the fabulous minds due to lack of Gwynnie time and ill treatment if they only spent $500 on their ticket, there were ridiculous line ups for treatments promised when they booked their day of grace with the chosen Hollywood Health Nut.  Lastly, some of her adoring public is thinking about consciously uncoupling with Gwyneth when she admitted on Jimmy Kimmel’s show that she really has no idea about what is being sold on her site.

I would never abandon my Gwynnie though, and decided to take some of her advice (even if she doesn’t take it herself) and live the Goop-ie life for one week.  Here are some of the things that I tried…

  • Earthing – Gwynnie said she didn’t know what this was really, maybe some electromagnetic energy force field that’s only available in the ground.  I knew she was just kidding, after all, she was on Jimmy Kimmel and we all know what a joke-ster she is, so I decided to try Earthing for myself.  I pondered the name first, that’s just how deep I am, and thought, well, this is something that I can only do on Earth – not Venus, Mars or Jupiter, just Earth – coolio.  Immediately, I felt a connection to the land.  It can also cure a multitude of maladies like insomnia, arthritis, inflammation and depression.  According to Clint Ober, simply put, “Earthing therapy rests on the intuitive assumption that connecting to the energy of the planet is healthy for our souls and bodies.”  I decided to walk bare-foot through the park, or tip-toe through the tulips, if you will.  I kicked off my Naot sandals (not on Goop’s list of must have, I must invest in one of their choices) and plunged forward into the grass.  Immediately, I jumped back after stepping into a big pile of doggie doo – GROSS!!!! I found a bird bath and joined my fine feathered friends for a quick rinse before I tried again.  I got squeamish thinking I saw a worm and a deer tick.  Earthing isn’t for the faint of heart, so I gave up, running like a girl back to the safety of the pavement and my sandals.  Verdict – caused more stress then it cured.
  • Jade Egg Practice – wanting a deeper sense of connection to myself and all of the other side benefits of the Jade Egg suggested on Goop including some kegel help, I decided to try it.  When I saw the $66 price tag, I immediately thought, I can’t spend that much money on my hoo-hah why not try a regular hen’s egg?  Same shape – right?  Except every time I did it, the egg kept cracking – what a mess!  People on the subway also looked at me strangely because every time I tried to shove my way into the doors, another egg yolk appeared at my feet.  Verdict – don’t use regular eggs, and skip this whole thing. 
  • IV Drip  (available at the Goop Wellness Summit) – I wasn’t able to charter a private jet to fly down to LA to partake in a weekend of wellness and GP disciples, so I thought about just getting an IV drip which they promise will rehydrate you!  Then I thought about it and went with nature’s hydration, scientifically proven to help you bring more water to your little cells – good old water.  Verdict – OH PLEASE!
  • Meaningful small talk – My Gwynnie has meaning behind all of her conversations, so delving deeper into Goop, I found an article on how to have meaningful small talk.  All 8 steps would be overwhelming for a mere mortal like me, so I decided to start with one small tip – ask for advice, because it makes people feel good about themselves.  I’ve started at a new work place, so I thought this would be a great way to get to know people.  I went to the Executive VP’s office and asked him if he knew the best place to find a gun-metal coloured purse would be.  I’ve been looking everywhere for one!  Instead of feeling like an expert, he ordered me to leave his office.  I then walked into the Sales VP’s office and asked him if he thought I should go with Mac Lipglass for a tried and true colour (my fave is Love Child) or go with Charlotte Tilbury?  He never heard of either but I’m sure it made him feel important to be included in such a riveting conversation.  Verdict – mixed.
  • Spirituality (Understanding How to Move and Manipulate Energy) – GP is a spiritual goddess, really!  It pours out of her pores.  The first thing that I think of when I see her, aside from the awful hunchback she will have later in life if she keeps slouching, is how she is a child of the Earth – so in touch with herself.  I read this article and felt overwhelmed by the ten steps, so I focused on one for more energy: “Make a list of different feelings. Free associate with each feeling. What is your relationship to that feeling? What are your beliefs or images about those feelings? Where do you tend to feel those feelings, if at all, in your body?”  When I wrote down my feelings, particularly about Goop, the first was bored.  I saw myself yawn as I was thinking about my feelings.  I felt my arms stretch back and my mouth open wide enough to catch flies.  My relationship with boredom – too boring to think about.  My beliefs are???? Not sure, can’t answer that one.  I think it’s find something less boring to do.  Verdict – MEH!

So, after basking in Goopie brilliance for one week, I learned several valuable lessons – never go to someone who is not a health care practitioner for advice or someone who has no clue what she is talking about for that matter for mental advice.  Stars like Gwynnie and Cameron Diaz, will never be my go to girls when I need treatment for something.  Remember Goop isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a business.