Jill Of Some Trades

And Master Of At Least One


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2018: The Beautiful Awful

People posted their top nine moments of 2018 all over Instagram. My moments of the year are likely different than a lot of others. They are what I think of as the beautiful awful. When my mother died 321 days ago, on March 3 (yes I know how many days it has been), my life changed forever. I knew that 2018 would be the year that I would lose her and I knew that I would feel profound sadness, but I also did not realize that in that grief, there would also be moments of beauty.

My mother was an exceptional person, not just OK, not just a wonderful mother, but exceptional. She suffered with a smile on her face and even though she was in pain, in her final days she was surrounded by so much love and so much genuine affection, she had the death that she deserved. In the weeks leading up to what we knew was imminent, I saw quiet moments with her sister just holding her hand. I had my cousin, her son, come by to see her, putting a smile on her face. I remember her singing Happy Birthday to him – those are the last words that I remember her saying. I remember calling him one day, in tears, but getting his long time girlfriend instead, and she told me that what I was feeling was normal; she had lost her mother a few years before and reassured me that it was OK to feel this wave of grief. I remember my cousins in Florida asking me if we needed them there and when I said yes, they packed up everything and came and they acted like it was no big deal. I remember their daughter coming over and keeping my mother’s spirits up, knowing how bad it was. I remember my other cousins coming, surrounding my mother with love. I remember them comforting me and my sisters. There were always at least a dozen people around all day, everyday. I remember them forcing me to go out, go for a walk to get some air. I remember my friends offering to come, even though my mother was so terribly sick.

I remember the palliative doctor and nurse being so kind, and telling us how to ease her into death, not just by pain relief, but by just continuing to talk to her, even if she wasn’t conscious. The nurse hugged us and told us that she could feel the love in the room. I remember her care givers treating her so gently, and with so much love. The last night of her life, I remember we were all with her. One, by one, everyone got ready for bed. I was going to be up for a long time, and I was sleeping in bed with her at night to give her injections. When it was just me, and her caregiver (my sister literally left the room), I was holding her hand and she slipped away so quietly and so peacefully that there was even something beautiful in that moment.

There was beauty at her funeral. When she was buried, it was warm and sunny for a winter day. At the exact moment, when her casket was being lowered, it got warmer, and just a little brighter. I thought I imagined it, but when I looked at my sister and said, “Did you feel that, it just got warmer?”, she was looking at me, saying the same thing. We had so many people looking out for us the week of her shiva (the Jewish week of mourning and visitations) and in the weeks after, that it took awhile for reality to set in. I remember the first night of her shiva, my friend, who is my cousin, wanted to do something, anything, and he and his wonderful partner made all of the beds (including one on the floor and one on a chaise lounge). When I started to cry, they understood it was because it had been almost a year and a half since I had seen my mother’s bed made – she had been in it for so long. Even throughout the year, long after her death, her friends, and our family, continue to look out for us, and to remind us how much she is still loved, even if she is no longer here.

I will also remember how people have rallied around my sister while she continues to go through chemo. Our friends and family always call to check up on us. Our cousin always picks us up after her appointment and her doctor and nurses so clearly want the best for her that it warms my heart to go to her appointments. When I broke my ankle, our cousins and her friend were there to take my place at chemo. My sister continues to do as our mother did and not let this be all about her disease. She makes the most of her good days and takes it easier on the rougher ones, but she so rarely complains.

When I broke my ankle and needed surgery in the late summer, it was just one more thing in a year crowded with challenges. Even though the situation sucked, there were still moments that I will never forget. My friend staying in the ER with me, even though I tried to send her home numerous times. She was even there when they re-set my bone. There was my guardian angel of the ankles, showing up the day of my surgery and name dropping so that the doctors knew that I was not just an ordinary patient. He not only kept my sister company, but checked on me daily, reminding me that it is a marathon, not a sprint to get better. There was my dear friend who waited with my sister too and got me home. He took me out in my wheelchair a few times (and laughed at me each time). I had more than 50 visitors in the 6 weeks that I was laid up, from my food-delivering cousins to my close friends who baby sat me reminded me of their own injuries and those of their family when I was getting impatient keeping me entertained to my sweet (but feisty) British friend who has also been my life mentors and to everyone in between. I had one pity moment, but remembering my mother’s strength got me through that.

The last year left me a little bit more fragile than I have been before. Author Mary Gordon once wrote, “A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing is safe”. In my case, I would say, it’s a motherless girl. I still believe that all things are possible, but I no longer have the safety net of my biggest fan, harshest critic, comic relief and advice giver. This New Year, I decided to stop looking back at my old resolutions and try to figure out what my new ones would be. I’m going to be a little kinder to myself this year and just do as my wise mother suggested and live my life. Luckily, I have the beauty of memories of my little Mummy and her words of wisdom still with me whenever I need them.

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Happy New Year and Admitting Failure

CharlotteWeb

Yup, I’m a failure.  I failed at my year of challenges by not really doing any, and I failed in my reading challenge by only reading 22 of 35 books.  I can actually tell you why I didn’t finish this – it comes down to three books 1) Outlander – it was long (almost 1000 pages) and it took me 500 pages to get into it, 2) All the Light You Cannot See or as I like to call it All the Books I Didn’t Get to Read Because I Had to Finish This Dud.  I know a lot of pretentious people who are going to judge me for not liking this one, that’s OK, I don’t mind. 3) Wicked or as I call it Wickedly Boring – too long and only about 50 pages were at all enjoyable.  Here is where I netted out:

A book about an animal – Emory’s Gift (a lovely book)
A book based on a fairytale, myth or folklore – Wicked (ugh – see above)
A book based on people from a religious text
A book based on true events
A book considered a ‘classic’ – Oscar Wilde’s Plays
A book considered a ‘modern classic’ – A Thousand Splendid Suns (a truly splendid book)
A book from a series – Top Secret 21 (I read all of the Stephanie Plum books – hilarious and fun)
A book from one of the “Must Read” lists – When Breath Becomes Air (Unforgettable and deeply touching)
A book from Oprah’s book club
A book involving religion
A book involving royalty – a king, queen, prince, princess etc.
A book picked for you by someone else
A book published this year – London Belongs to Me (Memorable, fun and written by a fantastic person – please read this)
A book someone gave you – After You (Well written chick lit but not as good as Me Before You)
A book that a relative or friend loves
A book that everyone is talking about
A book that you can read in a day – Complete – If I Stay
A book that’s less than 300 pages long – Complete – Where She Went
A book with a cover that drew you in – Fear Dat (A must read if you are going to New Orleans)
A book with a creative title – Year of Yes (LOVE – check out my 2017 blog coming up tomorrow or Monday for more details)
A book with a short title – E2 (HOOEY)
A book with a title that describes your life – Rude Bitches Make Me Tired (they really do)
A book with a title that has more than five words – All the Light You Cannot See (See above)
A book written by a politician – Crippled America (in my defence, it was a gift and I was too embarrassed to return it to the bookstore)
A book you borrowed – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Amazing)
A book you could use as a doorstop (ie. 700+ pages) – Outlander (see above)
A book you own but haven’t read
A book you would normally read on holiday – Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married (not bad, but completely forgettable – I don’t remember anything from it)
A book you’re embarrassed to read in public – Coreygraphy (It’s Corey Feldman’s biography – need I say more?)
A book you’re excited about – The Rainbow Comes and Goes (Anderson Cooper – need I say more?????????)
A book you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t
A book you’ve been putting off reading
A classic children’s book – I Love You Forever (if you can read this without crying, you are dead inside)
A humorous book – Why Not Me? (Mindy Kaling is my spirit animal and home girl and this is a fantastic book)
A play by Shakespeare

The Type A in me says that I have to try for 35 books again, so I will.  I’m going to switch some of the categories up since I found some too similar.  Plus, I really want to get rid of more books!  I’ll update you on the challenge for 2017 when I figure out which categories to swap out.

2016 wasn’t all about failure, I did get to travel a lot which you’ll hear more about, I enjoyed my city a bit more and I did get a few things off of my bucket list.  It also had it’s challenges, and no, it’s not about Princess Leia, Prince and George Michael dying, although that’s very sad.  The one ability that I have is to know when to pull up my big girl pants and make a decision, even if it’s a tough one.  I think that sometimes knowing what path that you need to take is half the battle.  I was told that 2017 was going to be a year of change for me, and I welcome it!  I hope that you all have a Happy New Year’s Eve and challenge yourself in 2017.


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2015 -The Ugly, The Bad and The Good

2015  – another year coming to an end, and it’s a time for everyone to reflect on the events that shaped their lives this year and think about what they would like to change in the coming year.  Some of you get to do that in your inside voice, I’m going to share, in general terms of course, what I’ve been pondering.  I’m reversing The Good, The Bad and The Ugly so that I can end the year on a positive note.

The Ugly

  • Receiving bad news about loved ones’ health this year was a doozy.  The way they handled everything became part of the good.
  • My father dying was very difficult on many levels for me.  If you’ve ever been estranged from a parent and they pass, you know what I mean.   The saddest day, was when I realized that my life hasn’t really changed all that much.  My heart goes out to people in this position.
  • There are times in your life when you meet what I’ll call “The White Elephant” – that person that you’ve heard about for years, but never met, that caused havoc.  I met someone that I’ll just call bad people, it also turned into “the good” for me when I got to tell her what I thought of her.  Nobody likes confrontation, but it can, at times, be good for your soul.

The Bad

  • It’s so sad when you reach a certain age and see your friends and family going through some of the same things that you are going through.  Death, sickness and job loss is always tough – it’s hard going through it and it’s hard watching other people go through it.
  • I like my job, I even like most of the people that I work with, but I let work get the better of me again this year after promising myself that I needed to lessen my load.  Being at work until 9 every night made me realize that I have to put my needs, and health first.
  • Not blogging as much as I should thanks to the late work nights.
  • World events – Paris, the Middle East, even the homeless situation right here in Toronto.  Rising crime rates, mass shootings every other week, and a miserable winter – I wish that there was a good news channel.

The Good

  • I am proud that I got through such a difficult year with more perspective and yes, my sanity.  I still have a sense of humour and now I also have the knowledge that I can get through just about anything.
  • Focusing on conquering my fears and setting new goals for myself resulted in me getting my driver’s license (finally), getting first aid certified and trying a host of things like axe throwing, archery and rib boating that I never would have done in the past.
  • Seeing the way people in my life have handled bad news gave me a new respect for them.
  • Traveling with the Frousins – always a good thing.
  • Decluttering really does make you feeler freer and the process, even though it’s a lengthy one, is very satisfying.
  • Learning to cook – it’s very relaxing for me – I never thought that I would say that!
  • Life in general – if you have one, it’s always a good thing!

I usually think of New Year’s as a time to start fresh and make resolutions that I sometimes will keep.  This year, I have a different outlook.  2016 is a brand new year, but each day, we can change our lives.  We don’t need a new calendar to do it.  I wish you all health and happiness and all the best for the New Year.

Until 2016, I remain, gratefully yours,

Jill