Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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It’s Not All Black and White

The events of the last week, namely the murder of George Floyd by a police officer and the incident in Central Park with Christian Cooper, a Harvard educated African American man who request for leashing a dog ended up with the threat of police action for no reason. Seeing these events unfold were horrifying. When George Floyd, gasping for breath called for his deceased Mama, my heart broke even more. I debated whether I wanted to watch the video, and in the end, I chose to. As horrible as it was, I felt it was important to see with my own eyes something that we can no longer turn away from.

There is a famous Latin quote, ‘Culpae poenae par esto. ‘ Let the punishment fit the crime. George Floyd’s was passing a counterfeit bill. Christian Cooper’s was being in the right place, at the wrong time, trying to enjoy his hobby – bird watching. Ahmaud Arbery’s crime was jogging. Two out of the three were guilty of nothing, and the third made a mistake that a white person would have just received a warning for. The punishment did not fit the crime and neither will the police officer with a charge of third degree murder. Anyone guilty of a hate crime, and let’s not kid ourselves, Arbery and Floyd’s deaths were hate crimes, should have also have that as part of their punishment and sentence.

Christian Cooper said something very interesting:

“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake,” Mr. Cooper said, “And to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt.” He continued with:

“I’m not excusing the racism,” he said. “But I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.”

Forgiving words. We all have knee jerk reactions. My first reaction is that Amy Cooper got what she deserved. My friend, who like me, is part of a minority group, said the following about her firing:

“I think people like this should keep their jobs but be on permanent probation. They need to expected to be involved in multi-racial social projects and report back to their supervisors and the community with the hope that this can bring about a greater caring. While keeping their jobs donations will made from portions of their income to social projects. Firing has the potential to increase resentment and more trouble.”

It made me stop for a minute, and think, maybe there is more than one way to look at things. When someone who is racist looks at a black person, their knee-jerk reaction is to think criminal. If you are somewhat open-minded, your first reaction is that Amy Cooper should be fired. But, what if the right answer is somewhere in between? Remember that with anything in life, there is always going to be your version, my version, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Just food for thought.

Cityline host (a Canadian national lifestyle show) Tracy Moore happens to be a woman of colour. She was DM’d by people for speaking out about how white people can make life less frustrating for people of colour. She was told that she is a racist. She used a hashtag that I found interesting #allyisaverb. It’s true. A black person shouldn’t be comforting guilty white people right now, it’s not their job. Imagine if for 400 years, you were enslaved, then freed, then still not having full rights, you finally get some in the 1960s, only to see hatred and bigotry continue on. To see every step forward met with one step back. If you aren’t aware, read. If you don’t want to read a book, find an article. But, don’t make it their job to explain the issues to you. We live in a digital age, use the internet.

Canadians have to stop thinking that we are better than Americans. There are hate crimes here too. As a Jewish woman, I’ve seen so many reports of synagogue being desecrated I’ve lost count. Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise. I live in absolute fear, not that I will be harmed, but that the cemetery where my mother is will be desecrated. A non-minority person never has to even think of this. Imagine having to worry that in an instant, something that you poured your heart into could be destroyed by someone who hates you for how you were born.

There is a debate if Judaism is a nationality, race or religion. Many do not consider me white. That’s fine, I’ll take it. As a minority, I feel that it is my duty to speak out wherever it is possible. To realize that ally is a verb. To hope that our adage of “Never Again” applies not just to a second Holocaust for Jewish people, but for all victims of racism, sexism or hatred of any kind.


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He Only Has One Ball and Other Ways My Mother Made Me Laugh

My mother and I were in the hospital as she was getting another treatment about a year before she died. My mother was in a bed, but there was a gentleman close by in a chair talking LOUDLY about his orchiectomy. I looked a my mother with a question in my eyes because she was very well versed in medical terminology, having worked in my father’s office for so many years. My mother looked at me, and in a very LOUD whisper said “He only has one ball.” I looked at her, and she looked at me, and we were in tears, we were laughing so hard. The gentleman never knew the difference, but he was such a loud talker, every time he got on the phone, my mother and I would mouth “He only has one ball” to each other and each time, we cracked up. Whatever the situation, and no matter how sick she was, my mother either made me laugh or she would find something humorous in a situation. She had an amazing sense of humour and was one of the funniest people that I have ever met.

One of Joe Biden’s (yes, I know, but the quote fits) most famous quotes is that “The day will come when the memory of the person that you lost will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye.” The good news is that sometimes, I laugh before the tears come when I think about some of the things that my mother has said and done or just an expression that she had on her face. My tiny mother was the source of so many big laughs over the years. As time goes by, one of my biggest fears is that I’ll forget something that she has said or done or even just her hilarious reactions to my own oopsies. Maybe these stories are just funny to me, but the greatest gift that I can give my mother now is to remember her.

Flirting With the Fireman

I remember the last time that my mother had to go to the Emergency Room. My aunt was in town, and it was October 2017. My mother was short of breath and I was so worried. I called 911, and the firefighters were the first responders on the scene. All of the sudden, my mother, who was so sick, was WIDE AWAKE and started flirting with the fireman, who she thought looked like Tom Selleck. I was trying to give him information to, you know, hopefully save her life, and she asked him to take her to the bar across the street instead of the hospital. He left the room for one minute, but he had a big smile on his face. I was pleading with her to be good for just 5 minutes. She’s said, “Jill, he’s so handsome, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers.” I was torn between laughing hysterically and scolding her. She had a huge smile, so I told her to be good. She kept flirting with him at the hospital too. I gave up.

The World’s Most Expensive Coconut Cream Pie

I’ve always been gullible and my mother always took advantage of that fact for her own amusement. Every year for our birthday, we get to pick our birthday cake. My mother made the absolute best mocha chiffon cake, but the poor woman had to make it so many times, I decided to give her a break. I prefer pie over cake, so I asked for the coconut cream pie from Scaramouche (a fancy Italian restaurant in Toronto). I had never had it before, and just wanted her to get a slice, but that wasn’t my mother. She bought the pie and informed me that it cost $110 but whatever her baby wants, her baby gets. She bought it about a week before my birthday and left it in the freezer.

Every single day for that week, she reminded me how much it was. She’d make little remarks like, you know, it was expensive, but how could I say no to you? I felt sicker and sicker by the day, and I said when you found out the price, you should have said no. My little Mummy told me that she would never do that to me, but she wasn’t sure if I was worth every penny. The day arrives, and I’m sick over it. I’ve never been big on my birthday on a good year, but I felt so selfish. It’s birthday cake time, and I was MISERABLE thinking how could I have made my mother spend that much money. She looked at me, with the BIGGEST smile on her face and said, “What, are you stupid? Did you really think I’d spend $110 on a pie? Jesus Murphy (still not sure who he is, but my mother said Jesus Murphy often) you are gullible. It was $35. Now get that look off of your face and put a smile on it.” I said you were stringing me along this whole time? My mother said, “You bet, and you fall for it every single time. It’s like taking candy from a baby” She killed herself laughing, and then, after berating her for taking advantage of the weak and the helpless, I joined in.

You Look Like a Hooker

My mother was bed-ridden and for the first little while, she had many different care givers until we got her into a routine with the favourite five that would take over. I came to see her just about every day, to check and make sure that she was ok, especially when someone new was there. I walk in, and let’s just say she was wearing makeup from a bad fairy tale. Yes, her lips were as red as blood, but it was her eyebrows that were as black as ebony and Snow White didn’t wear bright green eyeshadow or smudge jet black eye pencil around her eyes. I took one look at her and started laughing and so did she. She said that they woman was trying to be nice and make her feel good by putting some makeup on her. Now, my mother and I both have an inappropriate sense of humour, so half of the things that I find hysterically funny, will never be written. She could also laugh at herself and I never needed a filter around her.

I said, “You look like a cheap hooker. I’m going to take you down the street and sell you for $5 for 5 minutes.” My mother, almost always had an answer for everything and she looked at me and said, “Oh Jill, your awful. I couldn’t last five minutes.” Me, “Ok, I’ll bring the stretcher down and sell you for one minute, there is a market for everything.” My mother said, “Well, you aren’t wrong.” Then we both cracked up. Yes, I know – no harm is meant by this comment.

She Gave Me Fudge

During my mother’s illness, I was constantly in a state of high alert. I constantly had to advocate for her. My goal was for her to spend any energy that she had on herself and things that she enjoyed. I was the squeaky wheel at the hospital going 48 hours before her treatment, telling them that she would need a bed and that they needed to make a note and put it on the white board. The receptionists would always remind me that they don’t hold beds, and I would always politely tell them that I knew that this wasn’t the case and that I would wait until her name was down for one.

I was the one who dealt with the pharmacists, the doctors, the lab, and the list went on and on. My mother needed an emergency blood transfusion about two months before she died and they did not have a bed for my bed ridden mother. Her caregiver and I were together, and I was having a fit. I reminded the nurse about the compression fracture that my mother had in her spine. I reminded her that she was very sick. She told me that there were other sick people as well. I reminded her that I wasn’t insensitive, but were they as sick as my mother, for she was the only patient that I cared about.

Anyway, long story short, we did not bond. I was doing my usual, my mother needs this, and this, and what if this happens, etc. The nurse condescendingly told me that there was only supposed to be one person with my mother and either I or the caregiver would need to leave. I always got along with my mother’s nurses, but this one was a piece of work. My mother looked at me, and said, “I’m fine Jill, it’s ok.” and she meant it. I also didn’t want to stress her out, so I said fine, but I’m coming back. Her wonderful caregiver gave me a look like huh? Did that just happen?

I get back about 2 hours later, and my mother is snuggled up in a bed eating fudge, her favourite food of all time. She had a huge smile on her face, and she said the following, “Hi Jill. I told you I was fine. The nurse was so nice. I don’t know why you didn’t get along with her. She got me a bed about ten minutes after you left. And look, she gave me fudge.” Me, “She was horrible to me and Narda agreed (one of her wonderful caregivers). Are you telling me that all it takes for you to forget that fact is some fudge?” She said “You bet.” and popped another piece in her mouth. I told her that in no uncertain terms that she was a brat who could be bribed.

Forever Lost

My mother had the absolute worst sense of direction. She was a great driver though. If she drove us somewhere, she would always go the wrong way. Sadly, it didn’t matter that she was in the car with my sister and I who know the city, she still, somehow got it wrong. Every time I would tell her to go east, she would say “Never you mind with your east, west, north and south, just tell me right or left.” My sister would tell her to turn right. Of course she would turn left and we would be lost in suburbia. I would always spot the way to a major intersection and she would somehow follow those directions. Then she would say, without a trace of irony, “Wasn’t that nice? You got to see a new neighbourhood.” My sister and I would roll our eyes, but then we would all crack up.

There are so many more things that my mother did that were even more funny, I could write a book. Mother’s Day now, reminds me of being the kid who has to stand outside the candy store and can’t come in. I know that this year is different with the self-quarantine, but every email with a Mother’s Day reminder from a retailer or hearing people talk about what they are going to do with their mother stings. I know that it always will, but I will be forever grateful that I had such a wonderful mother.


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Project Empty: Makeup Buy or Cry 2019 (Part 1)

This year, I made a concerted effort to buy less and use more of my makeup. It can be tough – you know the feeling, bored, lonely, buy a lipstick. Instant gratification even though you already have that perfect lipstick shade 20 times over. I spent just $197 at Sephora on makeup for myself, which is literally just 10% of what I had spent the year before. I did buy a few things at ULTA in the States when I went, more for novelty purposes. I also found a few things at Winners (Canada’s version of TJ Maxx) but I was determined to spend less and use more last year. Makeup does go bad (eventually) and there is no point in stocking up when I literally do just a few makeup reviews here and on my regularly scheduled site, DIVINE.

Just to give you an idea of what I bought or didn’t buy in 2019:

Lipstick/Glosses/Lip Crayons – I literally bought 2 – one was Bite Beauty and only $7.25 – it was practically free. I also bought a Jeffree Star Lip Velour in Calabasas – I needed to know if his formula was great or not. So far, the jury is out. I used up 9 products and decluttered 1. I still have an embarassing amount that I will one day reveal. Let’s just say, I don’t have an exact count, but it’s more than 50.

Foundations – I bought 3, used 1.5 and still have 1.5 left.

Blush – I bought the Becca Khloe x Malika face palette. It was pretty, sue me. I was a little embarassed to order a Kardashian anything. I did use up 3 blushes this year. It was a miracle! I still have 3 other blushes, not including the palette.

Concealers – I finished one and bought one. Not too bad. I realized that stocking up is stupid – again, I’m not a YouTube Creator who needs 35 of these to review. One is plenty and lasts about a year.

Highlighters – I bought 2 at Winner. I used up 2. Not including the Khloe x Malika palette, I have a total of 5 highlighters.

Face Powder – I used up one loose powder and had one more that I am using up. Even steven. I did not buy pressed powder this year, so I have 3 in total. One was free. Does that even count?

Mascara – I used 4 this year. YAY. I bought zero, received 3 as gifts and have at least another 3 more somewhere. I won’t be buying mascara again in 2020. I have enough to get me through the year.

Eyeliners, Eye Primers and Other Boring Things – I used one full eyeliner this year. I don’t think I bought any and have been using up what I have. There are currently about 8 eyeliners in my makeup collection. I’ll only buy to replace what I actually use. I hate pencils and have a few so if I don’t use them up in 2020, I’m going to toss them out. I used up 2 eye primers. I have 1.5 left. You only need one. They take forever to use up. I have one glitter glue, one brow powder and one mini-face primer.

Eyeshadow Palettes and Singles – I have an embarassing amount of these. I did buy a lot more this year than I intended, but two were free (Sephora Rouge gift card) and I received several as gifts. Does that make it better? I decluttered one (hey – I pay for this crap – I don’t have to do a massive clear out). I am going to be a lot more careful about buying any shadows this year and be more thoughtful in what I spend my money on.

Buy or Cry (Part 1 of 3):

Wet N Wild Flights of Fancy

Wet N Wild Flights of Fancy Flock Party (Cry): This was a mess. Yes, it was cheap. No question. The one matte shade had zero pigment. The brow bone highlight had zero pigment. The gold shimmer came off my lid in chunks even with a glitter glue. The best colour was the hot pink shimmer, and it had hard pan immediately. Once you scrape it, it actually performed well and looked nice as a crease shade. The rest was meh. I’m cheap so I tried to use it at least until I hit pan on one shade. I did, and then tossed this out. Wet N Wild is also questionable when it comes to being cruelty free, so I’m taking a pass on their products.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure (Buy): This was a mini. A mini is the perfect size for a powder product – you get to try something expensive and you can actually get through the product. It still took almost 9 months, but it’s gone. It was beautiful and I would repurchase this if I was in the market for a new blush, which I am not. I do recommend it though.

Benefit CORALista Coral Blush (Cry): This blush had it all. The colour was lovely. The finish was perfection. The lasting power….nil. That’s the only issue, plus Benefit is sold in China which means it is not cruelty-free. If it was the best blush ever, I still wouldn’t buy it, but at least I don’t like I am missing out on anything.

Too Faced Mattifying Loose Setting Powder (Buy): This is a great setting powder if you can get past the cloying scent of peach. It creates a smooth finish and I ended up loving this powder….once I got over the fragrance.

Hourglass Caution Extreme Lengths Mascara in Ultra Black (Buy/Cry): I really liked this mascara. It didn’t smudge or flake and was long lasting. My complaint was the shape of the brush – it was like a long cone. It made it difficult to get an even application. It was a mini and lasted three months. I would say for the price, skip it and run to the drugstore.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Try): This was a mini sized point perk from Sephora. It took FOREVER to use it up. The colour was nice, the formula was long-lasting without being drying and it was cute. I can’t think of one bad thing to say about it except for awhile, it was the only lipstick that Sephora was giving away as a point perk so I still have one more to get through.

Colour Pop Disney Designer Ultra Glossy Lips in Boo (Cry): I wanted to love this gloss. It’s name is Boo as in Bibbidi Bobbidi from CINDERELLA (my favourite fairy tale), but it was more of a boo hoo. The formula is thin, although the colour is pretty. There are just way better glosses out there. It lasted about an hour on my lips and then disappeared faster than you can say…Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.

To be continued…because there is plenty more to share.


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A Day, A Year, A Decade

My mother...
My wonderful little Mommy.

I’ve watched many people post their feelings about the last decade on social media. For some, it was a delight – the best time of their lives. For others, lives were changed, in a somewhat devastating way. Others saw the best and worst in people. I would say that my life over the last ten years was a combination of the three.

I had some amazing experiences, both through travel and through relationships with people and just life in general. I had lows that were devastating in ways that I likely will never recover from. My faith in people was both rewarded and tested. People often don’t see the good, only the bad, but there were people in my life that came through for me in ways that I’ve never, ever imagined.

Grief has been the over-riding theme of the last 5 years. My father died on June 9, 2015. Grieving the loss of a parent you were estranged from is a different kind of awful. I remember feeling so alone. People thought estrangement meant that I didn’t care. If I had a dime for every time someone said, “Oh, I thought you didn’t like your father”….Estrangement and like are not comparable. I cared about my father, and estrangement was a last resort, not a first. This is the way it should always be, by the way. In a way, it is like losing your parent twice. First, when you have to say good-bye to them for yourself, and then when you have to say good-bye to them, losing forever the hope that things will ever be repaired.

My relationship with my mother wasn’t perfection, but it was close. There was no one that I more deeply admired. When she died on March 3, 2018, one year and nine months ago, I lost my anchor and purpose in life. Being her care-giver was the greatest thing that I will ever do and the greatest honour that I have ever had. Speaking for this woman, who didn’t have the energy to speak for herself, and being her voice was the most important thing that I will ever do. I don’t have any regrets, except that I wish that I could have done more.

She was the person that made me go and visit my father the last time. When he said something to me that was completely horrible, I remember telling her what a waste it was. I’ll never forget what she said to me, “Jill, I know you, you are my baby. What he said to you was awful, but you can also go to sleep at night knowing that you made the right decision. If you didn’t go, you never would have known and you always would have wondered.” All I could do was say, “Mummy, you are right.” And she was.

She was right about so many things. I miss having her as my advocate. As much as I spoke for her, she often spoke for me. She was smart, feisty and funny and nobody’s fool. She spoke her mind, and if you didn’t like it, too bad for you. She was right about that too – she was never afraid to speak up for herself and I’ve inherited that from her. I am, and will always be proud to be Judy Zelikovitz’s daughter. I often have people tell me how to grieve or that I’ve grieved for long enough, that my mother wouldn’t want this for me. I know, from her, that grief lasts a lifetime. I also know my mother would be proud that I have never let sadness prevent me from living. She told me to live my life and I have. I’ve never let the fear and despair over her loss keep me from doing anything that I have to do from work, to socializing, to anything else. I understand what is important in life, but I also know how to honour someone’s memory on my own timeline. More on that in a later post.

I was with my sister when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and as devastating as that was, I’ve tried to be there for her through her treatment, appointments, everything that I did for my mother. She is well cared for, and I don’t have to be on high-alert at all times, like I was with our mother. Michele has her attitude and her determination to live. We each have a part of our mother’s personality. Mine is in the planning and details and general Type A that made up my mother’s DNA. Michele has her grit and her ability to roll with things. She never lets her disease prevent her from living. A lot of people hear the “C” word and don’t know how to approach her. I always say that a person with cancer is just a person. We all have something, don’t we?

I’ve been shocked by people’s kindness and wounded by people’s malice. I remember when I was going through everything with my mother and sister, my dearest friend said this is the time in your life when you get a pass. I’ll also never forget the good. The joyful moments that I wrote about this time last year, what I called the beautiful awful. I’ll never forget people just being there, around my family during the worst time in our lives.

I see things very differently than I did ten years ago. I believe in keeping my word. If I make a promise, I keep it. If I say that I’m going to do something, I will do it. I’ve learned that words matter, but actions speak louder than words. I’ve learned that in life, and in business there are choices that you can make. You can take your profession and your life seriously, or you can treat it like a game of chess. Either path will get you some degree of success, and maybe even happiness, but only one will get you any type of fulfillment. Living life in the way that I was brought up to, by the person that I respected the most has made me realize there is only one choice. Do the right thing, and although in the short term, it may not pay off or work to your advantage, in the long term, if you stay the course, you will be rewarded. It was an important lesson to learn, and probably the most important thing that I learned this decade.

I hope that the next decade brings my loved ones all of the health and happiness that they deserve. I hope that there will be more joy after the sadness of the last few years. I hope that I have have told my friends and family how much their love and support has meant. I hope that I will always be able to live up to the expectations that my mother set for me. I hope that wherever she is, that she is watching, smiling, her big beautiful smile with the good, and giving her finger, as only she could, to the bad.


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What Having An MRI is Like

Photo: http://www.nmmc.org/ This was the closest photo that I could find that illustrated how I went into the MRI. My tech wasn’t smiling for the camera though.

I have had exactly one MRI (almost a year ago), but because I am part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program, I will be having them once a year for pretty much the rest of my life. It is not optional. I qualified for the program because I am at a high risk of getting breast cancer. Right now, my odds are 1 in 3, but after menopause they will increase. I don’t really worry about it, I also, as of right now, have a 2 in 3 chance of not getting the disease. Either way, being part of the program will help. I have annual mammograms and they are relatively easy, but the MRI has replaced ultrasounds for me. Click here if you want to know what they are like.

An MRI is not as easy as a mammogram or ultrasound if I am keeping it real. The first time that I attempted my breast MRI I panicked. It is not to say that you will, my situation was a little different. First of all, I had ankle surgery and had a 3 hour wait at a different hospital that very day for my final orthopedic appointment. I went to work in the afternoon, then worked out with my trainer and had dinner with a friend arriving at the next hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at 8:30pm. It was already a long day. It was also at the hospital that I used to take my mother to and that ended up causing part of the issue.

Being back at that hospital was overwhelming for me. I was sitting in the waiting room where I had taken my mother for one scan or another. I walked through the hallways that I once walked with her. It brought back a flood of memories, both good and bad. I sat in the waiting room, trying to hold back tears, not very effectively, while I waited for them to call my name. I went through a lot there, a lot of running around, fixing things, advocating for my mother, and it all came back to me in the moments that I sat in the waiting room.

When I was finally called after 10pm for my appointment, I was ok again. I figured it was maybe 45 minutes of my life. The nurse sat me down and asked me if I was afraid of needles (nope) or had any issues with claustrophobia (nope). So far, so good, right? Wrong. He then proceeded to tell me 7 times in a row (no exaggeration) that I shouldn’t move and that the contrast dye that he was setting up the IV for may make me nauseous – they administer it in the last few minutes of the MRI. I was told not to throw up in the MRI – to push through and wait to be sick until I got out. After having experienced the most extreme nausea of my life, just a couple of months before after having anesthesia, I was shaken. Yes, nausea is temporary, but knowing that most anti-nausea medication doesn’t seem to work on me, made me very nervous.

Once they put the IV in, I had another short wait until I was called. I walked into the room and saw the MRI. I still was pretty much fine. I was asked to open my gown at the front and lay face down on the table. When you lie down, there is a thin strip of metal that lies, pressing against your sternum between your girls which hang through the two spaces left for them. Your face goes into a lightly padded well (similar to what you would rest on for a massage) and you face a bucket. Once you are properly positioned, you are slowly pushed in. This is where I started having problems – I felt like I could’t breathe. It is extremely tight in the MRI and having something pushing against your chest is very uncomfortable. I told the nurse that I couldn’t do it. She asked me if I was sure, and I said yes.

I called my sister crying. I was disappointed in myself. I watched my sister and mother have to suffer through far more than me, and yet, when it was my turn, I just couldn’t go through with it. She was the one who made me realize that the upset came from being at the hospital that I had spent so many hours at, versus me being a total wimp. When the hospital called me the next day to reschedule, they explained that an MRI was more effective than an ultrasound. I rescheduled and got a prescription for Ativan (an anti-anxiety medication) which is commonly prescribed for MRIs so that I could get through it. I also was worried about having to be perfectly still for 45 minutes. On a good day, I have a really hard time staying still for 5 minutes, never mind 3/4 of an hour.

My sister reminded me to just stay calm and get through it as my second appointment neared and my dread grew. I told myself, no matter what, just get it over with. Again, I went to the hospital and sat in the waiting room that I had been in some many times in the past. I took the Ativan and reminded myself to be grateful that my doctor referred me to this program. When it was my turn, I asked the nurse (a different one this time) about the nausea issue with the IV. She reassured me that it wasn’t common and that I had nothing to worry about. She was very calm, and it made me feel a lot better (plus the drugs kicked in). I popped myself on the table and was in the MRI really quickly. It was uncomfortable having a thin metal bar pressing against my sternum, but I just kept telling myself it would be over soon. When you are face down. you can register the lights around you, but you can’t see them. It was extremely loud, with loud banging and clanging noises. I just get saying to myself that every second that went by meant that I was closer to getting out of this tube.

I heard their voices reminding me that the table was about to shake and vibrate and that was normal. It would last about 5 minutes. That meant, when it stopped, I was close to getting the IV. The IV fluid was the final step in the MRI. I felt the liquid go into my vein (it is slightly cool), and then, after another 5 minutes, I was told that they were moving me out of the MRI and that it went well, meaning that I wouldn’t have to do a repeat.

You have never seen anyone jump up more quickly to get up in your life. I was so happy that it was over and also happy that I wouldn’t have to do it again for another year. Well, that year is up on December 3. I’ll have to do this all over again in about a week. It will be at a different hospital this time, with a 6:30pm appointment. That is kind of a cushy time slot in the world of MRIs. It’s after work and not in the middle of the night. I know that I’ll get through this one too, and so will you if, and when it is your turn. Don’t be ashamed to speak with your doctor about taking something to calm you down if you need it. The important thing is getting through the test.


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My Father and the Little White Box

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

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

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

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


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Project Empty: Try or Cry (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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